Sharbat~e~Mohabbat : Love is the Theme this Summer
Remember the good ‘ole Rooh Afza ♥️
So even if you now believe;
sipping on Rooh Afza is cringe-worthy,
Or impedes your no-sugar goals.
Bring back that love.
The world needs more of it.
Love those loud neighbours
That lone hungry cat in your neighbourhood.
The wilting plant you see on the side-walk.
That gruff storekeeper.
A lost stranger.
An angry driver bitten by road-rage.
Your petulant child in need of compassion,
Love your wild bangs.
And your errant mood swings.
Love them with your kindness.
Accept. Love. Let go. Bless.
Love is all that we need.
Love is what makes the world go around!
Love is all we have.
Love. Is. Enough.
Backstory – Sharbat-e-Mohabbat
This post was ready to roll two weeks ago, but our family caught a nasty flu. Thankfully just the DH, the 13 year-old and I. The 23 year-old was away travelling with her grandfather (my father), to his maternal home.
It’s been a battle of sorts with the flu. We are slowly but surely bobbing back to life. Today being the first day, back on the desk for all of us. It sure feels liberating, productive and reassuring; all at the same time.
Over to Sharabt-e-Mohabbat!
Two weekends ago my nephew was in town. I cannot have enough of his joie de vivre. That’s what I love about young people. Full of beans, brimming with zest and banter. It hasn’t been easy for this 23 year-old, after my brother passed over early last year. Yet, I love how wonderfully he has managed each and every debacle with courage, grace and love in his heart. I’m not too sure he knows this about himself.
He arrived, strutting in joyously on a scorching Saturday morning. It was a long metro ride from Delhi, followed by an auto rickshaw ride in the sweltering heat. I was exhausted after a long week, and had no stamina to pick him up, but he happily arrived; donning his quintessential mischievous, broad grin.
We offered him the option of mint nimbu paani (mint lemonade); a personal favourite for the scorching summers of India. On a whim I asked him if he’d like Rooh afzha (a syrupy, rose drink that has been around for over a century, I kid you not!) instead.
He immediately volunteered to make us all a unique drink.
“Let me make you Sharbat-e-Mohabbat. Do you have watermelon?” he asked enthusiastically.
“Heck yes, we do,” I said laughing and chuffed at the same time.
I can’t imagine my summers without watermelon and watermelon juice. But this one-of-a-kind Sharbat named after love (mohabbat) made my heart flutter. A die hard romantic that I am. I can romance food, books, plants, bugs, snakes, rocks on my path, a painting et al. You get the drift, right?
Well this isn’t about me. It’s about Sharbat-e-Mohabbat. And love is the theme this summer!
Well, so here’s what our Sharbat-e-Mohabbat looked like.
Scroll down for the recipe.
I, of course had the one without milk. It was a power dose of energy, and was fodder for laughter. The rest of the day dissolved into dappled shades of joy and bonhomie.
Rooh Afzha – What’s in a Name?
Rooh Afzha, a concentrated squash with rose and kewra flavours was formulated in India in 1906, by Hakim Hafiz Abdul Majeed.
It literally translates to “refresher for the soul”. Launched in Old Delhi, this delectable syrup is manufactured by Hakim Hafiz Abdul and his sons company, Hamdard Laboratories; in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Rooh Afzha was prepared by Hakim to help the Delhi people stay cool in summers and counter heat strokes. It continues to be used as a Ramdan drink to break the evening fast/roza. Rooh Afzha is also added as a topping on Vermicelli desserts with Kulfi ice-cream, better known as the popular Iranian dessert Falooda.
Most of us possibly aren’t aware that the Rooh Afzha formulation was made with a medley of herbs, fruits and vegetables including Vetiver roots and Kewra flowers.
Rooh Afzha (the ready made drink) continues to be easily available in the bylanes of Old Delhi, in various forms till date. Apparently at Amir Malik’s shop, at Matia Mahal, Jama Masjid it was christened as – Sharbat-e-Mohabbat, Rooh afza topped with watermelon chunks. There is a milk version and a water version, as per your palatte.
I have seen many good samaritans offering this refreshing drink in large scale, on the roadside of Northern India; when the summer heat become unbearable.
You can buy it off the shelf at any grocery store/supermarket, and online as well.
Bonding Over Food
We are a family that bonds immensely over food. The other day I was ranting to the DH, how food becomes such a priority for us. We spend a major chunk of our day planning meals, cooking, getting food cooked, ordering food, groceries, vegetables, checking out recipes, trying our hand at new food options; and what-have-yous. It’s alright really, as it keeps us smug and happy.
Jewel of a Japanese fare:
The same evening we took my nephew out for Japanese fare. We realise every time he visits, we have the best Japanese food in town. Ibisu, is no exception. Set in an inconspicuous office complex, the eatery has a simple, non-ostentatious and very basic identity. The food is authentic and par excellence, I say. You literally walk into a Japanese home with drapes that open to a tiny reception.
The cubicles have curtains and even clothes hangers. There are separate rooms and an open plan area too. You eat on the atypically low Japanese tables surrounded by cushions, dim lights. And if you get lucky, you get a cubicle by an intricately designed window that opens to a lovely view.
Here’s what we ate. There were assortments of Sushi, Sashimi, Nigiri, Tempura, Japanese salad and more. The Matcha ice-cream and sago pudding was the perfect wrap up to the delectable fare.
Love is the flavour this summer and I believe most families bond over food.
What all do you bond over, as a family?
I believe we as a family can bond all over again with these, this summer. Gardening, late night walks, sky gazing, , cycling, birding/nature walks, board games – indoor scrabble, monopoly, Jenga, Uno and outdoor games (badminton), music, dancing, yoga/workouts, singing, music, reading, films, art and writing.
We have been doing quite a few of the above, especially last week when we were mostly in bed. I’ll be thrilled if we can do at least a few more from this list.
I also want us to pause and just enjoy each others company.
Since our 13 year-old is also home from boarding for summers, and our 23 year-old is readying to gather wings; I feel this is one summer which must be made simply memorable.
What’s your idea of a fun summer?
How are you bonding, or planning to engage with family and friends this season?
Would love to hear your ideas and experiences.
Before I go, here’s the recipe as promised.
The Recipe : Sharbat~e~Mohabbat
1. Watermelon – cubed/chopped into bite-sized chunks
2. Hamdard Rooh Afzha – 1/2 tablespoon depending on your sweet, syrupy preference
3. Chilled water/water from your Earthen pot/matka, or: Cow’s Milk/ Plant based like Coconut, or Almond)
$. Basil seeds/Chia seeds (optional) – 1/2 teaspoon
4. Ice Cubes
How to create Sharbat~e~Mohabbat:
1. Spoon in 2/3 tablespoons of Rooh Afzha in a tall glass.
2. Chop watermelon into medium cubes.
3. Dunk the watermelon cubes in the glass.
4. Allow the watermelon to swirl and be coated in the flavours of Rooh Afzah, as you stir it lovingly with a spoon.
5. Now splash in liberal doses of water or milk. (Use plant based milk if you like. I like mine with the goodness of H2O.
(The 23 year-old made Sharbat~e~Mohabbat this afternoon with a medley of coconut milk and water and it was yum. She innovated further by adding in basil seeds, and thanks to her it now features in this recipe.)
6. Throw in some basil seeds for an added squishy flavour. Let it sit for 5 minutes or more to allow the seeds to swell up.
6. Sip into the goodness of your cool, refreshing Sharbat~e~Mohabbat.
Banish those sweaty days and hot flashes. Great for pmsing and menopausal women too. 😉