Sharbats: History and Modern Interpretations

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With summer in full swing, any opportunity to chill out (literally and figuratively!) seems like a gift from the gods themselves. And we all know the easiest way to do so is by ingesting copious amounts of cool, refreshing drinks. Jokes aside, cold drinks have been a time and tested way to beat the heat for ages now. However, from the wide selection of brews we have access to, one particular drink stands out in certain regards. Sharbats, or Sherbets as some of you may know it, is a beverage that originated from Iran but has gained popularity in Turkey, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India and other South Asian countries.

History of Sharbats

The drink made its way to the Indian sub-continent in the 16th century and was popularized by the Mughal Empire. Tales of Mughal rulers that had ice transported all the from the Himalayas just to have chilled drinks adds a bit of flair and intrigue to the origins of the Sharbat. Those of us who have had a cold Sherbet on an otherwise scorching hot day would agree with the actions of the kings of the past, it certainly is worth the efforts! The word Sharbat is a Persian term, which was originally derived from the Arabic word ‘sharbia’, which means ‘to drink’.

Traditionally, Sharbats were made with cane juice and additional flavorings were added to give each drink a distinct taste. The recipe for the drink evolved over the ages. Several countries even made additions and modifications to the original drink to come up with new versions of Sharbats. The Tamarind Sharbat is particularly popular in Muslim communities and is commonly prepared during the season of Ramadaan. We also have the Rose Sharbat, which is probably the most famous Turkish variety of the drink, and the Almond Sharbat that originates from Persia. Even Western countries have joined in on the action. Back in the day, the drink was introduced in the UK in the form of dry Sharbat powders. The recipe changed with time to become what is now known as Sorbet (basically frozen Sharbat).

Varieties of Sharbats

It was only after digging through various articles and blogs did I come to know that there are multiple ways to make and consume a Sharbat! Some people (myself included) prefer the watered-down version of the chilled Sharbat concentrate, while others enjoy the thick, syrupy extract. You can even mix the concentrate with ice to create a rudimentary version of a Sorbet. That said, the most widely recognized and enjoyed interpretation of the classic dish is the Sharbat drink.

Sharbats are so widespread in our country that each state has adopted and put a personal blend on the original recipe. Down in the south, the Nannari Sharbat (Nannari – Indian Sarsaparilla) is the staple Sharbat variety while in the north-eastern states of Nagaland and Sikkim the Buransh Sharbat (Buransh - Rhododendron) is more popular. While the name Kokum (Gracinia Indica) may not mean much to most, the people of Maharashtra and Goa hail the Sharbat made from this fruit as the ultimate summer drink. The chilled beverage tastes absolutely divine and is the perfect way to hydrate in the blistering Goa heat.

Amrutam Ayurvedic Sharbat Range

This is where we seamlessly segue onto the introduction for the Amrutam Ayurvedic Sharbat Range. We prepare these lusciously fruity drinks with the goodness of fruits to help beat back the summer heat. While creating our Sharbats, we took inspiration from the roots of the drink and added Ayurvedic herbs and spices to it. Every delicious serving of the Amrutam Ayurvedic Sharbat helps in preventing dehydration and cures fatigue. You may be wondering how we could top this; an exquisite beverage that not only revitalizes the body but also but provides essential minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that help you heal and recover. The simple answer, flavors.

We have four different flavors of Sharbats, each providing you a range of benefits. The Amrutam Ayurvedic Sharbat with Falsa is particularly good for your blood as the fruit itself has an abundance of iron. The Amrutam Ayurvedic Sharbat with Anar helps in regulating blood pressure and sugar levels, preventing bacterial and fungal infections and also enhances memory retention. Both the Amrutam Ayurvedic Sharbat with Amla and Kacha Aam have an impressive quantity of vitamins and minerals which are necessary for the optimal functioning of the body. Additionally, the Amla flavored Sharbat acts as a natural coolant and keeps you chill!

Making drinks out of the concentrate is as simple as mixing a couple of spoonfuls of the Sharbat with chilled water or milk. However, for something a little different check out the preparation methods listed below. The recipes are simple to follow and require the Amrutam Ayurvedic Sharbtat stock and a few other ingredients.

1. Minty-Kachha Aam Sharbat

For this recipe, you'll need the Amrutam Ayurvedic Sharbat with Kacha Aam, some ginger juice, fresh mint leaves, fresh lemon juice and some chilled water. Add the ginger juice, lemon juice and the Sharbat stock into a blender along with the mint leaves and the chilled water. Blend until the leaves are completely processed. Pour the drink into a glass and serve topped with some fresh mint leaves.

2. Khatta-Meetha Anar Sharbat

As the name implies, this Anar Sharbat has both sweet and sour tones. The recipe calls for the Amrutam Ayurvedic Sharbat with Anar, some kala khatta syrup, some pomegranate seeds (optional) and some chilled water. The instructions for the drink are quite easy to follow. Simply take two spoons of the Sharbat and three spoons of the kala khatta syrup and blend with the chilled water. Serve the drink with some ice cubes, topped with the pomegranate seeds for some flair!

3. Icecream-Sharbat Melange

This is a dish that stuffs a whole bunch of tastes into one compact serving. You'll need some ice cream for the base of the dish (preferably something that isn't very overwhelming like vanilla ice cream), the Amrutam Ayurvedic Sharbat with Amla, some Gulkand and some chopped salted almonds. There are two ways to prepare this dish; the first method involves throwing all the ingredients into a blender to make a flavorful, ice cream smoothie. The fancier method however demands a steady hand. First, place two scoops of the ice cream into a bowl. Next, take two spoonfuls of the Sharbat and drizzle it over the ice cream. Finally, top the dish with the chopped almonds and the Gulkand. Voila, your Ice cream - Sharbat Melange is ready to be served.

Sharbat Recipes for the Health-Conscious

If you have not yet tried these healthy and mouth-watering beverages, we strongly recommend you do so! But if you already have and are looking for other flavors, keep on reading. The next section includes a couple of Sharbat recipes that anyone can make pretty easily from the comfort of their home.

1. Kokum Sharbat

Although kokum may not be easily available to everybody, we definitely suggest trying this recipe out if you can. For the drink, you’ll need 12-15 pieces of Kokum, 2 glasses of cold water, ½ a cup of sugar and ice cubes. Start by soaking the kokum pieces in normal water. After two hours, boil the water with the fruits and add the sugar to it. Ensure that the sugar dissolves completely. Let the mix boil for about 10 minutes. Strain the excess water and separate the syrup. Dissolve the syrup in the chilled water and serve with ice cubes!

2. Variyali/ Saunf Sharbat

Fennel flavored Sharbat is a Gujarati delicacy and is unbelievably simple to make. One can sum up the entire recipe in three easy-to-follow steps and only requires stuff commonly found in the kitchen. For the recipe, you’ll need ¼ cup of powdered fennel seeds, 2 tablespoons of honey, water and crushed clove. Add the powdered seeds and clove into a bowl of water. Allow it to soak overnight. The next day, strain out the solids and add honey and ice to the liquid and serve. The drink not only helps in hydrating and cooling you but enhances digestive properties.

3. Plum and Date Sharbat

The final Sharbat on our list is anything but a classical recipe. This modernist drink combines the goodness of plums and dates to create a thrilling explosion of flavors. The recipe calls for 200 grams of plums, 100 grams of dates, 80 grams of sugar, some water and milk. Add all the ingredients (except for milk) into a cooking pot and boil for 10-15 minutes. Once the mix has cooled down, blend it until it achieves a uniform texture. Refrigerate the concentrate. While serving the drink, boil some milk and cool it. Mix the concentrate and the cooled milk and serve with ice!

Although the lockdowns seem to have drained the life out of most things, we can still enjoy small pleasures like having a chilled Sharbat on a hot summer day. It may not seem like much, but sometimes it is the small things that end up being important. Who knows, maybe you and your grandparents may bond over a drink, or you may end up fighting your sibling for the last serving of the Anar Sharbat. Life is rarely what it seems to be and finding happiness in the small things is a liberating way of life. As Deepak Chopra, world-renowned author/ self-help guru/ advocate for alternative medicine puts it

“The healthiest response to life is joy.”

So try and find the joy in your life, even in the littlest things like Sharbat!


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