In Chinatown last Saturday, I bought a good-sized chunk of ginger--75 cents worth at $1.30 a pound. I knew that I'd use about an inch of it in the soup I was planning to make the next day--but what to do with the rest of it rather than add it to the pieces of ginger hiding in my freezer.
Then I remembered the wonderful African ginger drink that Allan and Paula and their Malian house guest had made the last weekend. I called Allan to get the recipe; here's what he told me more or less:
African ginger drink
Heat 6 cups of water.
Meanwhile peel and grate enough ginger to make a full cup, put it in a large bowl, add a cup of sugar, about 4-6 cloves and 3/4 sticks of cinammon.
When the water boils, pour it over the ginger mixture, and cover.
Let it stand for at least an hour and a half. Then add 4 cups of tap water, zest from an orange (or maybe 2), juice from 2 oranges, and zest and juice from 1 lemon.
Chill (or not) and serve.
Here are my adjustments:
For the orange juice and zest, I substituted zest from 1 lime, and juice from 2. I kept the lemon.
Instead of sugar, I used about 4 Tb. of agave syrup.
I strained most of the mixture, but left some of the ginger pulp in. (Alan's may have been strained, but he didn't mention this stepp.)
Alan told me that this beverage is popular throughout West Africa, and when I looked it up online, I found many versions, including one spiced with pepper instead of cinnamon and cloves, though most seem to call for beginning with 6 cups of water.
It's tasty, tangy, refreshing, and very easy, though grating the ginger takes a bit of time if you don't use a food processor.