5 Ingredients or Fewer

Saffron & Cardamom Lemonade Concentrate

April 30, 2013
5 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 5 minutes
  • Makes 500 ml concentrate
Author Notes

A traditional summer cooler from India—a lemonade infused with green cardamom and saffron, served cold with fresh mint. —Saee Khandekar

Test Kitchen Notes

Cardamom and saffron in a beverage? I love it! This delicate drink is so simple, but it evokes the bouquet of flavors that makes food from this part of the world so intriguing. India and Iran share many common food traditions, and this lemonade fits neatly into the category of a Persian sharbat, a fresh, cold drink made from fruit and flower essences. The words “sherbet,” “sorbet,” and “syrup” all have their root in this word. For a casual Sunday gathering in my friend’s backyard, I whipped up a batch of this lemonade and served it with Persian-spiced (turmeric, sumac, lime) chicken wings. I took the author’s suggestion and added a dash of vodka, subbing sparkling water for still, and it was sublime! —Louisa Shafia

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons green cardamom powder
  • 8 strands, saffron
  1. Make a simple syrup by dissolving the sugar and water over low heat. Stir occasionally to ensure that it does not burn. Simmer for a minute once the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Turn off the heat. Add the cardamom and saffron and cool completely.
  3. Pour in the lemon juice and stir to mix.
  4. Strain and store in a sterilized bottle in the refrigerator.
  5. To make the lemonade, pour 3 tbsp. of the concentrate in a glass. Muddle some mint leaves and sprinkle some salt. Add ice cubes and fill up with cold water. Stir and enjoy! I also like to drink this with a dash of vodka *wink.* If you’re a soda person, this works well with soda as well.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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16 Reviews

cayt March 20, 2022
Is green cardamom powder (called for in the recipe) the same as ground cardamom?
judy March 15, 2022
Saffron is outside my budget. But I did this with only the Cardamom. It was amazing just that way. And the syrup is a lovely sweetener for Rooibos Tea, iced or hot!
Mohammad T. January 4, 2021
It was ammazing.
You can buy saffron at https://www.phoenixsaffron.com/shop
Blanketofstars August 29, 2019
I signed up for an account to review this. I have made this beverage concentrate several times and have fallen in love with the flavour combination - I didn't even have cardamom before I tried this recipe, now it's a staple in my pantry! I originally tried it because it's ayurvedically balancing for me. I now LOVE it! For those asking about freezing, I tried in an ice cube tray and they only partially froze into slushy-like blobs. I used them up but it was messy and unnecessary so I haven't done it again. It has kept well in a mason jar in our fridge so that's now how I store it after making a big batch. Thank you for this delicious addition to my recipe book!
Dawne June 19, 2014
This is really delicious. I did find that it was better if used the same day. I'd be interested in hearing if others had success freezing it.
Diana B. April 14, 2014
I just have plain old garden variety cardamom pods or the ground spice you can buy at the supermarket. Can I use either of those instead?
Andy J. February 24, 2014
Is this concoction able to go into the freezer?
KelseyB February 19, 2014
I made this 2 days ago and used it for cocktails. I really love the safron and cardamom flavor, but I felt like it still needed something more - acidity or berry. Next time I'll try increasing the lemon juice or adding cranberry.
Pamela_in_Tokyo November 2, 2020
There is recipe for a simple syrup that uses cardamom, saffron and to give it some kick sumac. It might be what you’re looking for: http://abrowntable.com/home/the-flavor-equation-sumac-and-saffron-refresher.

Here is a YouTube video of making a margarita using this same simple syrup as well: https://youtu.be/48ZL3iojKB0
cucina D. December 4, 2013
I am making this soon, love the combination of flavors, although I may reduce the sugar as I prefer not too sweet for my taste.
Georgetown-DC July 2, 2013
OMG! Drinking now - the flavor is FANTASTIC and so worth the sugar! We are sipping them as we make Flodeboller - Danish treats. We are going to have roast beef sandwiches with Tiger Sauce (mayo, sour cream and horseradish) on cibatta bread with tomatoes and basil! SO YUMMY!
Mariana A. July 1, 2013
This sounds delicious! I'm wondering if it would go well with a splash of Lillet Blanc and soda?
walkie74 July 1, 2013
Delicious, even with a sugar substitute! The cardamom and saffron is very, very subtle. Fantastic!
Saee K. July 1, 2013
I'm so glad you enjoyed it!
QueenSashy June 19, 2013
What a wonderful drink. Congrats on the wildcard. I have all the ingredients handy and on my way to the kitchen to make it!
Saee K. July 1, 2013
Hey, did you have a chance to try it? I'd love to hear how it turned out!