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.
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. Today I am going to share with you another traditional recipe, this time a Mint and Cucumber Cooler (sekanjabin).
What is sekanjabin?
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.
What is a shrub?
A shrub is not just a bush of greens outside in your yard. It is also 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 served with romaine hearts
Sekanjabin can be served two ways. The first is as a dipping sauce for fresh, crisp lettuce 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.
Sekanjabin served as a drink
And of course, sekanjabin can be served as a drink. Traditionally it is not used for cocktails, but is diluted in water and served over a glass filled with ice and grated cucumber. You can control the amount of sweetness, adding more or less water as desired.
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 made sekanjabin popsicles, which were devoured by my family!
Other uses for sekanjabin
And if you like something a little stronger, use the sekanjabin syrup to make this Vodka and Mint Fizz!
Mixed in with cranberries, you have a wonderful liqueur to gift to your friends or serve at your holiday party.
I also use the sekanjabin syrup to drizzle over some beautiful citrus fruit like navel oranges, grapefruit and blood oranges.
So you see, the uses for this delicious mint syrup are endless! I hope you enjoy it!
- 2 cup granulated sugar
- 7 cup water
- 1/2 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 1/2 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.
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Serving Size:1 glass
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 268 Total Fat: 0.1g Saturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 14mg Carbohydrates: 69.7g Fiber: 1.8g Sugar: 66.8g Protein: 0.5g