When you spend a lot of time in the scorching summers in the Middle East, you really appreciate those things that cool you down. There are some oxymorons: hot tea on a blazing day; heavy clothing in the middle of the desert; and scantily dressed belly dancers. Head to Palestine, and the contradictions are more obvious. But one thing stands out in the middle of heated Israel—the beverage limonana.
Crushed mint and lemon with slushed ice are the perfect thing on a humid day on the Mediterranean coastline, where the smoggy air bounces off concrete buildings and you are eager for some shade. The city of Haifa, Israel is one such place. Noted in the Levant for its neighborhoods of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze and Bahá’ís living side by side in relative harmony, Haifa has developed its restaurant business at the foot of Mount Carmel considerably in the last ten years. Served in any of the Palestinian or Israeli establishments, limonana is the perfect drink to have on a sidewalk café, perhaps with a bit of Arabic mezza and sheesha.
Limon-nana (meaning lemon and mint in Arabic and Hebrew) is an oasis of serenity in a heated climate, something everyone can enjoy. If you’re not in Israel, Palestine or neighboring Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, or near the Israeli coffee chain Aroma in major North American cities, then follow this easy recipe and share!
Makes approximately 3 cups.
1 cup lemon juice, or about 4 medium size lemons
½ cup fresh mint leaves
4 tablespoons sugar
3 cups of ice cubes
½ cup of water
1. Boil ½ cup of water with sugar and a pinch of mint, then pour cooled liquid into blender.
2. Add remaining items and blend for 1-2 minutes.
3. Pour into glasses and garnish with fresh mint sprigs
Note: I use agave syrup in place of sugar. Sweeten to your own taste.