Growing up in Jeddah, my two go-to drinks of the moment would be the beloved Suntop all year round. The other was a Ramadan special; Vimto! Yeah yeah, I can see the Saudi grown kids nodding with a little smile.
It was not until I was enrolled in College in Lahore, that I actually developed the true taste of Badam Ka Sharbat (Almond Syrup mixed in water). It was not that I didn’t even know about it earlier in my life. It is just that my tastebuds needed to be matured, as well as , I needed to feel the grami of Lahore (summer), to really appreciate this drink!
As always, ones’ mom’s recipe is always the best!
I would see my Mama spending two tedious days of soaking and peeling 5 Kilos of Almonds. Being a true expert, my mom would save and dry the peel of the almonds and add it to the ‘Ubtan’ (natural scrub) that was made for me. Using a regular blended, and the trusted malmal ka kapra (muslin cloth) , she would extract the almond milk, and continue on to the slow process of cooking the syrup for bottling.
Serving the sharbat for guests was considered a delicacy by my mom, as surely it is not a commercial drink like a soda pop.
Once college finished, and I married and moved away… the memories of me sneaking down to the kitchen in hot summer nights to stir up a huge glass of sharbat also faded. That is, until now.
Being a Calgarian, while you do get the best of Jack frost, you also get the sunniest and hottest summer days! This is why, this lucky warm May, I decided to recreate what I had seen my mom do so many times in front of me. As if a black & white movie unfolded in my mind, I set out to create a bottle of this precious Sharbat for the sentimental self in me.
As with all ‘bound to be good’ desi recipes, I heavily relied on the concept of ‘Apnae Hisab Sae’ method of cooking ;). This concept means that you let your senses … including your common sense, lead you on a quest to a great recipe, with no whatever regard for specific jotted down Martha Stewart style cooking 😉 .
Since a specific recipe is amiss, I will list the ingredients and sequence of how I completed this yummy treat…
Almond Syrup Recipe:
You will need:
(I have read people adding Saffron and Khewra.. but as my Mama didn’t, nor will I 😉 )
My journey to yummy Sharbat….
1. I started with about 2 cups of almonds. I know, I know. The traditional way is to soak them overnight and peel to start with. However, I wanted to keep the goodness of the peel. Thus, relying on my trusted powerful blended, I washed and dumped these almonds in it, and filled with two cups of water.. and ran the motor until I could see all almonds have been crushed. I used two Sieves (chanani),one thick, and one thin, to start straining the blended liquid. First I poured the blended mix through the thick sieve to remove the bigger pieces, and then through the thinner one to remove the smaller crushed almonds. The liquid which was collected, was poured in a thick non-stick cooking pan.
2. After this step, I dumped all the strained almond pulp back into the blender, and added again 2 cups of water to repeat all the above steps. I did this Blend and Sieve process until I could see that the almond pulp is completely dry and has no moisture left in it. Honestly, I did it 4 times.
3. Once I had the liquid collected, I put it on medium heat, and added 2 cups of Sugar, and almost 2 teaspoons of crushed cardamon seeds. Make sure you don’t leave it uncovered, nor unattended. I made sure that I mixed it once every 7-8 minutes, so that the sugar doesn’t settle at the base. After stirring and cooking it for over an hour, I could see that the liquid reduced by 1/3rd and was thicker, like a maple syrup consistency. Remember, if you want the thicker consistency, let it cool! Once cooled, the syrup thickens up further.
4. After cooking, and having a texture of a medium-thick syrup, I let it sit to become cooler. Once almost room temperature, pour it in a bottle which you plan to use for storage. Make sure that the bottle is dry! Otherwise you run the risk of the syrup spoiling.
5. My syrup ready and in bottle, I am now storing it in my fridge, as the summer heat can sometimes spoil the syrup as well. If you are worried that it will be too thick in consistency, leave it out for a while before using.
I like to serve this drink to myself, by filling 1/4th of the glass with the syrup, 3/4th with water, and 2 cubes of ice! Yummy!!
Let me know if you try this recipe out 🙂