Panakam recipe for Sri Rama Navami. Panakam is a traditional South Indian drink made with jaggery, black pepper, cardamoms and water. Traditionally in South Indian temples, large pots of panakam is offered to Lord Sri Rama during Sri Rama Navami which is later distributed among the devotees. Sri Rama Navami falls on the 9th day of the Chaitra Masa every year. This day is celebrated to mark the birth of the Hindu Lord Shree Rama. This year it is celebrated on 10th April. We all know the celebrations are incomplete without panakam!
Panakam is a Sanskrit word that translates to a “sweet drink”. In the simplest and the most traditional form it is simply water sweetened with jaggery, flavoured with crushed cardamoms and spiced with ground black pepper. This basic drink is known as Panakam in Telugu, Panaka in Kannada and Panagam in Tamil.
There are various beliefs about the significance of serving panakam on this day. Some believe that since Rama Navami is celebrated during the summer, panakam is offered as a cooling beverage. You will find various versions of panakam where ingredients like lemon juice, dry ginger, fresh ginger, honey or even Tulsi leaves are added.
But the panakam I make is the most basic which I learnt from my grandmother. Every year she would send a pot of this to the temple for the offering. That’s what I have shared in this post.
This 4 ingredient drink is immensely popular among the Telugu-speaking people as a welcome drink, served during Hindu rituals like weddings and poojas.
In the temples of Andhra Pradesh, Kalyanothsavam meaning a wedding ceremony is also performed on the day of Rama Navami, to celebrate the wedding of Lord Sri Rama & Goddess Sita. So offering panakam to the Lord (who happens to be the bridegroom) is an age old tradition.
Till day the Telugu-speaking people’s wedding celebrations start by offering a glass of panakam to the bridegroom as a welcome drink. Later all the guests are offered the same.
We also have the tradition of offering panakam during Varalakshmi Vratham, Gauri Pooja and Durga Navaratri.
What to offer during Sri Rama Navami?
During Sri Rama Navami, we offer panakam in combination with vadapappu and chalimidi. Vadapappu is simply soaked and drained moong dal. It is similar to the Karnataka kosambari but the lentils are kept plain here.
Chalimidi is a traditional sweet made with rice flour, jaggery, cardamom and a splash of water. There are two ways of making this – pachi chalimidi and pakam chalimidi. I have included the recipes of both in the recipe card. For pooja we usually prepare the pachi chalimidi.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 4 tbsp. Jaggery Grated
- 2 cups Water
- Pinch cardamom powder (1 large cardamom)
- Pinch dry ginger powder (or sonti/ saunt)
- Pinch pepper (coarsely crushed)
- ¼ cup moong dal (or pesara pappu)
For pachi chalimidi (naivedyam)
- ½ cup jaggery
- 1 cup Rice flour (even the store bought flour works fine)
- few tbsp. water
For pakam chalimidi
- ¼ cup ghee plus 1 tbsp
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup rice
- ¼ cup coconut pieces
- 2 pinches cardamom powder
Making panakam recipe
- Mix jaggery and water and stir till jaggery melts. Strain to remove impurities.
- Add cardamom, ginger powder and crushed pepper. Panakam is ready. This is traditional panakam offered to god. There are also variations where lemon juice is squeezed. If you prefer you can also add little lemon juice but not sure if it is offered to god.
- Soak moong dal for one to 2 hours. Drain off the water completely. This is vadapappu.
Making pachi chalimidi
- Mix jaggery and rice flour well. Sprinkle little water and knead well to get a dough. Do not add too much water. Dough should hold shape. Pachi chalimidi is ready.
Making pakam chalimidi (with ingredients below)
- Wash 1 cup rice well. Soak it overnight in enough water.
- Next morning, drain the water. Leave it in the colander until all the water is completely drained but the rice is still moist.
- Add the rice to a blender and make a very fine powder or flour.
- Sieve it using a very fine mess or sieve. Measure 1 cup of the flour for making chalimidi. Keep this ready. You will be left with little excess flour. You can use that for some other recipe.
- Roast ¼ cup chopped coconut pieces in ¼ plus 1 tbsp ghee till you get a nice aroma. The coconut pieces have to turn slightly golden in color. Set the pan aside with coconut and ghee together.
- Add half cup sugar along with half cup water to a large pot.
- Boil the mixture until it reaches a soft ball consistency. Drop a spoonful of syrup in a bowl of water, you must be able to make a ball.
- Immediately add ghee and coconut, give a quick stir. Move it away from the stove. Add cardamom powder.
- Add ¾ cup sieved rice flour. Mix well to remove lumps. You must be quick in doing this. Depending on the consistency, you may need to add more flour, about 2 to 4 tbsps. You will need to stop adding if you feel the mixture is too thick. The mixture has to be slightly runny, it will firm after cooling.
- Add another table spoon of ghee at the end. This prevents it looking dry like mine. Cool it thoroughly.
- Enjoy chalimidi with family and friends.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes