Sharbat (not to be confused with sorbet, a frozen fruit based dessert) is a Persian influenced soft drink concentrate popular in and around the Indian sub-continent. It is said that the Mughal emperors got ice shipped to their palaces from the Himalayas to enjoy cool fruity drinks in the hot Indian summer. Kings and their whims and fancies! I am just glad us common folk have ice and fruit easily available to us nowadays.
Sharbat can be had with cold water or milk depending on their flavor. Rose flavored sharbat is a traditional favorite. I have made juice concentrates before, if you would recollect my lemon-mint-ginger cooler earlier this summer. This time, I thought I might call this juice concentrate sharbat because I used grapes, the fruit fit for kings and nobles. Angoor ka sharbat (angoor is Hindi for grapes) just sounded so royal and fancy.
I have used red grapes here, black ones would give you the deep burgundy color similar to an aged red wine. Use your favorite grape variety and see what color and flavor you come up with. Speaking of which, how about adding some fragrant sweet spices to up the flavor quotient?
I used cinnamon (or more precisely, the cassia bark more commonly used in India), cloves and green cardamom. I decided to leave the star anise out because I didn’t want a too-complex flavor. You can use one or any combination of spices or none at all. I added the spices bundled in a soft muslin cloth while simmering the grape juice on the stove. This way, the spices can be easily removed when you feel they have done their job. I did not use any preservatives, just a little lemon juice. So this sharbat will need to be refrigerated and used up in a few days. If you are smart and know proper canning techniques, you can make longer-lasting bottles of sharbat.
I almost always mix a light drink, so it’s all a matter of personal taste. Mix as much or as little of the sharbat concentrate with water, add lots of ice and sip on it like a queen (or king)!
Experiment with different flavors if you want. Ginger, mint, orange juice or zest and so on and so forth. Coming up with your own blend is what will make your sharbat unique and special.
ANGOOR KA SHARBAT (RED GRAPE JUICE CONCENTRATE)
You will need:
- Red Grapes – 2 lbs (or a kilo), soaked and washed in a vinegar-water solution
- Drinking water – 1 1/2 cups
- Sugar – 1 cup
- Lemon – 1, juiced
- Whole spices – 1″ piece of cinnamon, 2-3 cloves, 5-6 pods of green cardamom (bundled in a clean, thin cloth)
- Puree and strain the grapes to make pure grape juice and keep aside.
- In a large saucepan, gently boil the water, sugar, lemon juice and the spices. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, boil it further for 4-5 minutes to make a light syrup. Add the fresh grape juice and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Discard the spice bundle when you feel the concentrate is fragrant enough. Skim the scum off from the top and strain the concentrate.
- Cool slightly, pour into clean and dry jars. Cover tightly with a lid once they are completely cooled and store in the refrigerator.
- To make a drink, mix one part concentrate with 3 or4 parts water (depending on how light you want it), add ice and serve.
- Leave the spices out if you are apprehensive about their flavor in your cool drink.
- Experiment with ginger juice or a little orange juice and zest.
- You can replace the grape juice with lemon or lime juice (see this recipe).
- If you have access to fragrant edible flowers like rose, steep them in the concentrate to make a more flavorful drink.
As much as I hate the too-hot-for-comfort Texan sun, I actually prefer summer to winter any day. And I just realized that cooler climes will here before I realize (shudder!).
So, here’s to all things sunny and bright!
Have you had sharbat? What is your favorite flavor? Do share.
I am linking this up at these awesome blogs.
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- By Stephanie Lynn