On an afternoon stroll around Udaipur with Meenu (my Indian BFF) and her husband, we escaped the heat in favour of some sweet refreshment.
When she first asked me whether I wanted a sugarcane juice, I anticipated she was going to take me to a nice little air-conditioned café with words such as “organic,” “cleansing” and “a shot of wheatgrass elixir” banded around… OK, of course I didn’t, but what I didn’t realise was that we were going to a broom cupboard with a huge industrial-sized mangle and half a sugarcane forest in the corner.
Sugarcane juice is, simply, the juice squeezed from a sugarcane, which is a massive tropical green plant that looks a bit like bamboo. It is apparently the world’s largest crop, with India being the second largest producer (after Brazil). Sucrose (sugar) is extracted from sugarcane, and accounts for 80% of the world’s supply, the rest coming from sugar beet.
The Persians and Greeks discovered “reeds that produce honey without bees” in India during the sixth and fourth centuries BC and trading in this expensive, luxury item began. Cultivation was largely confined to India, until the 18th Century when large-scale migrations lead to ethnic Indians and sugarcane crops spreading all over the world.
Sugarcane juice is sold by vendors all over Rajasthan, and is called “ganne ka ras.” Back to the roadside broom cupboard in Udaipur, we managed to squeeze through the hustle and bustle to get a seat on a bench to watch the action. After a fun display of mass-scale noisy juicing, the crowds gathered to collect the delicious nectar. A splash of masala (spice blend) and some lemon juice and there you have it: a glass of yummy sweet green stuff.
Some more pictures of beautiful Udaipur