18 March 2013

Three refreshing drinks inspired by WOMAD 2013

This time last week I was sitting under the boughs of a magnificent tree avoiding the direct heat of a particularly ferocious sun, drinking my first fresh coconut of the day and listening to the voices of the world. I was at WOMADelaide, a celebration of the World of Music, Arts and Dance, and an absolutley renewing four days for the body, soul and stomach. I love the respect people have for the venue, the beautiful botanic gardens in Adelaide and the way people of all shapes, sizes and varying levels of reservation leave all that behind and dance with utter abandon as the music goes through them - from the truly gifted whose whole bodies move with the rhythym, to those with arms flailing and legs contorting but radiating such joy it's infectious. So infectious that only now a week later have the tweaks subsided in what I can only assume are muscles I never knew existed in my armpits. It was dark, Jimmy Cliff in his 70's was rocking out with high kicks and ska dancing and if he was going to give it his all, then by god so was I!

In between planning what music to hear next, is the equally important task of planning what food to eat from the extensive selection of world flavours. This was our fourth year in a row at WOMAD and each year I fixate on one food which I eat and eat and eat until I can't do my jeans up on the flight home for fear of injuring my distended stomach. The first year was fresh strawberries and cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner; the second year Byron Bay Organic Donuts filled with blackberry jam as a snack on the way to each gig; the third year was gozleme, (so many gozleme), Turkish pastry with lamb, spinach and fetta drizzled with lemon juice.
This year was the year of the coconut. It was a blazing hot weekend and from the first icy cold sip of coconut water which rehydrated my heat fuddled brain on that first night while dancing to Cat Empire, to scraping the coconut flesh out with a broken spoon with more glee than a chimpanzee discovering tools to access food - I was hooked. I had another on the walk home to the hotel at midnight, then first thing when we went in for the day, then with lunch, on the way from stage to stage, with dinner... just one more for the road. A special mention should also go to the dumplings which featured heavily after discovering them late on day two...

Today's recipes are inspired by some of the music we listened to, from gypsy bands to gospel choirs, folk singers to dub and reggae kings, from the far flung corners of the world to right here in our own backyard. To pick out three doesn't even begin to convey the experience of WOMAD (click here to see the full list of people who performed and be introduced to some truly memorable music). That said, as my blog is about looking at one thing three ways, and without constant liquid I would have withered in the sun, here are three refreshing drinks to say goodbye to summer, inspired by some very talented musicians and the countries they come from.

DRINK 1: Citron Pressé avec épicé:
Inspired by Souad Massi from Algeria/ France who sings with depth and passion across several languages with hints of folk, then rock, an acoustic ballad followed by electric guitar and some serious drum beats - all matched by an incredible voice. Born in Algeria, Souad moved to France in 1999 after being threatened due to the political content of her songs, she now divides her time between Algeria and France.

Citron Pressé is a classic French 'lemonade', with fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup and sparkling water, with each component served separately for you to mix to your individual taste. I have added flavours from Algeria - orange, honey, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom to the syrup for an Algerian influence.

Ingredients for the syrup:
  • 1 orange, finely sliced into rounds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
you will also need freshly squeezed lemon juice, soda water and ice for serving

  1. combine all syrup ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat, once boiling turn the heat down and simmer on low for 25 minutes
  2. remove from heat and allow to cool completely
  3. store in a clean glass jar with a lid in the fridge for up to one month
  4. when ready to serve fill your glass with ice then combine a small amount of syrup, lemon juice and top up with soda water
  5. adjust quantities of syrup and lemon juice to taste

DRINK 2:Tamarind and passionfruit soda

Inspired by Circolombia from Colombia who combine incredible acrobatic feats with powerful music and poetry to the beat of reggaeton, channelling the energy, passion and danger of the streets in the barrios of Colombia. 

One of the popular drinks in Colombia is tamarind juice, with its sweet/sour tang, in fact its so popular there is a canned soft drink called Colombiana (could anything sound more Colombian?) which is flavoured with tamarind. To make this at home I am making my own tamarind syrup to add to soda water and fresh passionfruit (maracuya) pulp for the taste of Colombia right here in Melbourne. This drink isn't too sweet and the sour tamarind is very refreshing (if an acquired taste), it needs the passionfruit pulp to round out the flavour.


  • 75 grams tamarind pulp (seeds in)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • soda water
  • passionfruit (1 per glass)

  1. combine tamarind pulp, sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat, once boiling turn the heat down and simmer on low for 10 minutes, do not over cook or the tamarind will stick to the pan and burn turning acrid very quickly
  2. remove from heat, strain to remove tamarind seeds and fibres and allow to cool completely
  3. fill each glass with ice, 3 tablespoons of syrup, the pulp of one passionfruit and top up with the soda water, stir until well mixed

DRINK 3: Jamaican Ginger Beer
Inspired by Jimmy Cliff from Jamaica because 'there are many rivers to cross'....but... 'you can get it if you really want'... as it's a 'wonderful world with beautiful people'. Because he is a reggae legend with inspiring energy. 

This drink is simple and refreshing with the flavours of Jamaica - ginger, limes and coconut. Most people would make it with soda water but I just can't get enough of coconut water - it's up to you! You could also add some white rum if you wanted or use the ginger syrup for drizzling over cakes or fruit.

  • 120 grams young fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice 
  • 1 lime, sliced into thin rounds
  • coconut water or soda water
  • ice

  1. combine grated ginger, sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat, once boiling turn the heat down and simmer on low for 30 minutes
  2. remove from heat and leave overnight
  3. strain the grated ginger, the syrup can be stored in a clean jar in the fridge for up to one month 
  4. fill a jug with some ice then add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of syrup, up to 1/4 cup lime juice, the thinly sliced limes and top it up with coconut or soda water, stir until well mixed
  5. add more syrup if desired then sit out on a warm evening listening to music and enjoy!

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