Thursday, 27 December 2012

badam ka sharbat (almond cordial)

edible gift for christmas: badam ka sharbat
fruity and syrup like sweet sharbat’s are a staple refreshment in pakistan. from the mid-80s commercial companies like mitchell’s brought forth a range of fruit squashes the most popular flavours of which are mango, guava and mixed fruit. when guests would come mama would leave me in charge of making a ice-cold jug of squash with plenty of ice and a pinch of salt. a more traditional sharbat was rooh afza and jam-e-shirin. both of these are pink-red syrups that are made from a combination of fruits, herbs and flower essences believed to refresh and cool in the deepest days of summer. a hint of lemon and a generous pinch of salt really do make a refreshing drink.

in the absence of squash or rooh afza we would make nimbu pani literally ‘lemon water’. this quick home-made alternative was made by combining one part of lemon juice with three parts of sugar and a touch of salt. a sprig of mint is a welcome addition too. 

etymologically sharbat is derived from the word ‘sharab’, the classical arabic term for a sweetened drink. however, in the late middle ages the word sharab became synonymous with alcohol. the term sharbat was used to the distinguish between the two and is basically a cold and sweet drink usually based on fruit. but there are exceptions to this that include sharbat’s based on flowers like gulab (rose) or spices like elachi (caradamom) and nuts like badam (almond) sharbat. 

i remember badam ka sharbat being served mostly on special occasions particularly ramadan or eid. i loved rooh afza and mitchell’s squashes as much as i hated badam ka sharbat. this is because the latter was almost always served in ice-cold fresh milk. i could never abide by buffalo milk with its stray bits of milk fat. on the rare occasions that it was dissolved in water i would happily drink it. o on the other hand has happy childhood memories of drinking badam dhoodh (almond milk) post swimming. so this year i thought i would make him a bottle of badam ka sharbat for christmas. 

the recipe below comes from my phoopo (paternal aunt) in lahore as it was at her house that i first had badam ka sharbat. you are likely to find the sugar content shocking but i can tell you now that i have already tweaked it (it is meant to be three times the quantity of the almonds). since it was my first time making it i decided to follow the recipe closely. i do think that one could reduce the sugar however given that sugar is the preserving element it is likely that the sharbat will perish quicker than usual. i also took the liberty it add a large pinch of saffron. the original recipe uses whole cardamom pods only. the preparations for this recipe start the night before. you will also need a sieve, two one litre preserving bottles and a funnel. i do not know how long this will last but my phoopo tells me that it should do so for quite a while. i would say around three months once you have opened the bottle. 

o opened his bottle on over christmas and made himself a big glass of badam dhoodh. it has passed his taste test. i had it with water and it tasted lovely. 

{nujee’s phoopo’s badam ka sharbat} 

three hundred grams skinned almonds 
seven hundred and fifty grams caster sugar 
twenty whole caradamom pods lightly bruised with a pestle 
a large pinch of saffron (optional) 
one and a half litres water 

soak the almonds over night. the next day drain them and pour boiling water over them for a minute. this helps to loosen the skins making the blanching process easier. 

once blanched place the almonds in your food processor and grind them until they are fine. you can use some of the water listed in the ingredients above to help the process. 

place the ground almonds, sugar, water, ten cardamom pods and saffron in a large pan and bring to a boil. make sure you watch the mixture as it is quite an angry one that spits and threatens to over flow if not stirred regularly. continue to boil it until becomes syrup like. it need not be too sticky. 

strain the sharbat using the sieve. i did it twice for good measure pressing down on the ground almonds so that they would release all their flavour. you could get away without straining but i find the texture to irritate the throat. a little bit of the ground almond will remain even after straining it twice. 

place five cardamom pods in each of the preserving bottles. use a funnel to pour the badam ka sharbat into the bottles while it is still hot.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! I love badaam ka sharbat and have wanted to introduce it to my kids forever.. and now I have a recipe for it!