They say that “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. That&’s excellent advice: practical, encouraging and promoting an unwavering can-do attitude in the face of adversity. But why, I have often wondered, does the end product have to be lemonade?
Not that there is anything wrong with that wonderful refreshing cold beverage, but why can’t the proverb suggest making something more filling like lemon chicken, or something fancy like lemon meringue pie, or something utterly delicious like Moroccan lamb simmering in a tagine along with preserved lemons, saffron and cumin? After all, life is what you make of it. So if you are going to make something out of those lemons you’ve been handed, then you might as well make it something that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
Almost in the same way that it&’s hard to forget the countless benefits of lemons. Rich in vitamin C, vitamin B, phosphorous, proteins and carbohydrates, lemons aid in digestion and act as a blood purifier. It even helps to prevent diabetes, constipation, high blood pressure, fever, indigestion and many other health problems.
While recounting the antiseptic part comes the advice. So here it goes: lemon juice, being a natural antiseptic medicine, can also cure problems related to the skin. Lemon juice can be applied to reduce the pain of sunburn, and it helps to ease the pain from bee stings as well. Lemon juice can be applied on the skin for the treatment of acne and eczema. It acts as an anti-aging remedy and can help to remove wrinkles and blackheads. Drinking lemon juice mixed with warm water and honey burns up fat, reduces body weight and brings a healthy glow to the skin, the sort that can never be bought over the counter of any store.
While that lemon-induced natural glow works its way up to the surface of your skin, use the following recipes to cook something lemony, something which is decidedly more exciting than a tumbler full of ice chunks and lemonade.
Lemon pasta salad
This light and flavourful salad is perfect for hot summer days and nights. Use any variety of vegetables to make this salad, even a partly ripe mango and some fresh mint. The lemony dressing goes well with everything. Add pieces of cooked chicken to turn it into a main course.
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice 3 tbsp whole grain mustard 2 garlic cloves, minced 2 tsp grated lemon peel 3 cups dry penne pasta 2 cups chopped tomatoes 1 1/2 cups chopped red bell peppers 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese 1 cup chopped green onions
Whisk oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic and lemon peel in small bowl to blend. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Rinse pasta with cold water to cool quickly and drain again. Transfer pasta to large bowl. Add tomatoes, bell peppers, feta cheese, and green onions. Pour dressing over and toss to coat.
Lemon salad dressing
A Syrian-born friend introduced me to this super easy and superbly delicious dressing. Nothing that comes out of store-bought bottle can beat the aromatic lemon and potent fresh garlic found in this mix.
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 3 cloves of garlic (peeled) 1 tsp coarse (sea) salt
Crush garlic cloves with the flat side of broad knife. Chop very finely and mix with salt to form paste. In a medium bowl whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic-salt paste. Stir just before pouring over salad.
Commonly used in Moroccan and Mediterranean recipes, this easy-to-make mouth-watering condiment can be a great substitute for oily achaar. Serve with muttar pulao or moong daal and rice.
8-10 lemons 1/2 to 1 cup of coarse (sea) salt Extra fresh squeezed lemon juice, if needed Canning jar (sterilised in hot water)
Put two tablespoons of salt at the bottom of your canning jar.
Rinse and scrub clean the lemons, and cut off any stems. Cut off 1/4-inch from the tip of the lemons. Cut the lemons lengthwise in half, but keep the lemon attached at the base, do not cut all the way through. Then make another cut the same way, as if you were cutting the lemons into quarters, but not all the way through.
Gently pull open the lemons and sprinkle coarse salt, inside and out.
Put the prepared lemons in your canning jar and press them down so that their juices come out and rise to the top. Pack the jar with lemons, making sure that they are covered with juice. Add more juice if needed, and add a couple more tablespoons of coarse salt to the top.
Close the lid of the jar and let it sit at room temperature on the counter for a few days. Turn the jar upside down every so often. After a few days put the jar of lemons in the refrigerator for at least three weeks, until the rinds of the lemons soften. Turn the jar upside down occasionally while storing in the refrigerator.
To use one of the preserved lemons, remove from the jar and rinse to remove the salt. Discard any seeds. Remove the pulp. Thinly slice or chop the preserved lemon rind to use in a recipe or as a condiment. Preserved lemons can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six months.
Lemon coconut muffins
These are the world&’s best muffins hands-down. Coconut flakes meet lemon peel to create a unique tropical and zesty combination. Eat them for breakfast or serve for afternoon tea.
1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup sugar 1 tsp baking powder 3/4 tsp baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup yogurt 1 egg 1/3 cup butter, melted 1 to 2 tbsp grated lemon peel 1 tbsp lemon juice 1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/3 cup lemon juice 1/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup flaked coconut, toasted
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, beat the yogurt, egg, butter, lemon peel and lemon juice until smooth; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in the coconut.
Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 400° for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted near the centre comes out clean. Cool for five minutes before removing from the pan to a wire rack.
In a saucepan, combine the lemon juice and sugar; cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Stir in coconut. Using a toothpick, poke six to eight holes in each muffin. Spoon the coconut mixture over muffins. Serve warm or cool to room temperature. Makes 12 muffins.