Sekanjabin (سکنجبین) is a Persian sweet and sour mint syrup that can be a dip for crisp lettuce or can be mixed with water and cucumbers to make a refreshing drink.
Labor Day weekend, in the U.S., marks the end of summer. Of course, the fall equinox doesn’t hit until mid-September and the weather here in San Diego is screaming HOT! Summers in Iran can also be long and hot.
I’ve already shared with you several favorite ways to cool off Persian-style, from yogurt with cucumbers (mast-o khiar) to ice cream with saffron and rose water (bastani). Today I am going to share with you another traditional recipe, this time a Mint and Cucumber Cooler (sekanjabeen).
Why this recipe is so awesome
Back in Iran, a pitcher of sekanjabin was served at family picnics, especially during those long, hot months. When I attended the University of Arizona, my uncle would make me sekanjabin to help us chillax while we sat in the shade, hiding from the desert heat.
Sekanjabin is a syrup made with sugar, mint and water. Vinegar is mixed in once the syrup is done and helps to balance the sugary sweet syrup. It is basically a shrub.
A shrub is not just a bush of greens outside in your yard. It is also a drink that contains vinegar. Yes, you read that right: vinegar.
The term “shrub” is derived from the Arabic word “sharab” which means “drink.” This word is also used in the Persian language, too. Basically, a shrub is a sweet syrup that includes vinegar.
When diluted with water and served with shredded cucumbers, it makes a very refreshing sweet and sour drink. Shrubs can be added to other non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks.
I share many ways of how to use this fabulous mint syrup at the end of this post.
Ingredients you need
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- Granulated sugar: To make a simple syrup regular granulated sugar is used, not powdered or confectioners sugar.
- White wine vinegar: For the tang you get from cocktail shrubs, simple white wine vinegar is used. You can use other vinegars like apple cider vinegar or champagne vinegar.
- Fresh mint: You must use fresh mint for this syrup. Dried mint will not work.
- Persian cucumbers: This is not needed for the syrup, but for the drink. For the sekanjabin drink, the diluted syrup is added to shredded cucumbers.
Tools to Use
1. In a small pot over medium-high heat whisk together sugar and water until sugar is dissolved. Let syrup boil together for 10 minutes, then add vinegar.
2. Reduce heat to medium and cook until syrup thickens, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in mint. Remove mint when syrup has cooled.
Expert tips and recipe FAQs
Sekanjabin can be served two ways.
The first is as a dipping sauce for fresh, crisp romaine heart leaves. There is something quite novel about watching grown adults lick their fingers while dipping their crispy greens into this very sticky syrup. Heads of lettuce are consumed by the bunches as everyone dips on leaf after another.
And of course, sekanjabin can be served as a drink. Mix a pitcher with syrup (measuring about 1 ½ cups) with 6 cup s cold water and grate cucumbers. This will yield a sweeter drink. Add more water to dilute to your taste preference
Some prefer more tang and add a bit more vinegar or lemon juice. This may not be a traditional American Labor Day beverage, but it certainly will cool you off from that last heat wave summer has for you.
I have even mixed up the drink and frozen them to make sekanjabin popsicles, which were devoured by my family!
Traditionally it is not used for cocktails. But if you like something a little stronger, use the sekanjabin syrup to make my Vodka and Mint Fizz!
Mix sekanjabin with cranberries, you have a wonderful cranberry liqueur to gift to your friends or serve at your holiday party.
I also use the sekanjabin syrup to drizzle over some beautiful fruit to make this delicious yet simple citrus salad.
So you see, the uses for this unique mint syrup are endless! I hope you enjoy it!
A cocktail shrub is a drink that contains vinegar. The term “shrub” is derived from the Arabic word “sharab” which means “drink.” This word is also used in the Persian language, too. Basically, a shrub is a sweet syrup that includes vinegar. It can be mixed with fruits or herbs, mint for sekanjabin. The shrub can be diluted with water or club soda for a non-alcoholic drink, or mixed in with your favorite booze of choice to make a specially crafted cocktail.
Sekanjabin is a syrup made with sugar, mint and water. Vinegar is mixed in once the syrup is done and helps to balance the sugary sweet syrup. It is basically a cocktail shrub. This Persian simple syrup is diluted with water and can be served as a drink. The syrup also makes a dipping sauce for crisp romaine lettuce.
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Persian Mint and Cucumber Cooler (Sekanjabin)
Sekanjabin is a Persian sweet and sour mint syrup that can be a dip for crisp lettuce or can be mixed with water and cucumbers to make a refreshing drink.
- 2 cup granulated sugar
- 7 cup water
- ½ cup white wine vinegar
- 1 cup fresh mint, loosely packed
- 3 Persian cucumbers, grated
- In a small pot over medium-high heat whisk together sugar with 1 cup water until sugar is dissolved.
- Let syrup boil together for 10 minutes, then add vinegar.
- Reduce heat to medium and cook until syrup thickens, about 20-30 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in mint.
- Remove mint when syrup has cooled.
- For a drink, mix a pitcher with syrup (measuring about 1 ½ cups) with 6 cup s cold water and grate cucumbers.
- This will yield a sweeter drink. Add more water to dilute to your taste preference.
Serving Suggestions: The drink is best served ice cold. You can also serve the syrup with hearts of Romaine lettuce for a cool treat.
Serving Size:1 glass
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 268Total Fat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 14mgCarbohydrates: 69.7gFiber: 1.8gSugar: 66.8gProtein: 0.5g
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Wow! This sounds like a wonderful functional beverage with the mint and cucumber. Just reading the ingredients, I my mouth already feels refreshed. Thank you for this recipe!
I remember this recipe, glad you submitted it. Thanks for being a part of the YBR:)
I just stopped by to thank you for the recipe. I made your Sekanjabin, both ways: as a drink and as a dipping sauce. And both are wonderful, even for this chilly weather :-). And, as a bonus, I had a lesson in candy making :-). After adding the vinegar I set the timer to 30 minutes and left, and when I returned the sugar was burnt… errr…. caramelized :-). I still tried to add the mint, but when everything cooled it hardened, and I could not even pull the mint out, and had to reheat the mixture, which by… Read more »
Oh yeah, when making syrups you can’t leave the pot for too long! I’ll definitely add that to my directions!!! You are awesome for trying it with lettuce. I have another pitcher of the drink in my fridge now. It’s been so hot and humid here, so unlike San Diego’s normal weather, every time my hubby comes home from work he sucks down a few glasses! And the syrup can last you a month in the fridge, so you don’t have to cook too much!
This sounds really interesting! I’ve actually never tried cucumber water of any sort, but I love that yours has some syrup for sweetness.
Jamie @ http://www.mamamommymom.com
This looks delightfully refreshing! We have a somewhat similar cooler in Mexico made with cucumber and lime juice. I can only imagine how much for refreshing it is with the addition of mint.
Oooh, I love the idea of swapping out vinegar and using lime juice!
This cooler sounds delicious, and your photos are absolutely beautiful. Pinned!
I love this, beautiful presentation also!
It’s a pet peeve of mine to hear people say that summer is over on Labor Day. I’m weird like that:) There’s still 3 more weeks left, let’s enjoy them. This cooler would be perfect for the hot weather, or to even bring a little summer into winter. I think I would also prefer the drink over the dip, but I’d be happy to try both. Thanks for sharing Laura and I hope you had a great holiday!
Totally agree, especially since we are sweating it out and it’s September!
oh yum! your pictures are so pretty!
This drink sounds so cool and refreshing! Love hearing about your culture. I would love to try Persian cuisine. Thank you for sharing your stories and this recipe.
This sounds so tasty and refreshing
I always love mint and cucumber combination but it’s in a drink? Wow I would love to try this. And I must say how gorgeous your photography is, Laura! Your photography makes me refreshed by looking at it! 😉
Wow, that was some menu! I love your clean, crisp photos.
Oh this is such a cool and refreshing drink. I must must try this out soon. 🙂
This sounds amazing and I think I will have to try this dish!
Not only is this on my must try list… you photography is just gorgeous! Thank you for sharing during #SundaySupper