Updated: Jun 29
Sharbat is an Indian drink normally made with fruits and flowers. Some people associate sharbat with Rooh Afza, which is actually a brand of Indian squash flavored with rose essence that is sold in glass bottles all across the Desi realm. For those not versed in British lingo, squash refers to a concentrated sugary syrup that is consumed after dilution with water. It is sometimes called cordial.
My mom has her own recipe for rose cordial that is a simple syrup flavored with rose water. This concentrated syrup will live for months in the fridge and is rather perfect as a summer drink or to wow an unsuspecting guest who assumed they'd be served Tropicana Orange juice.
Rose cordial is also served at iftaar (fast-breaking meal) during Ramadan, and many people substitute water with milk. The syrup provides a much-needed sugar boost after a long day of fasting and the milk/water is perfect for instant rehydration. Some people also add chia seeds or basil seeds for an extra nutritional kick.
A NOTE ON CHIA SEEDS AND BASIL SEEDS
In my opinion, both are disgusting, especially that characteristic gel coating that make the seeds look floating ants in fur coats. Yet, basil and chia seeds were popular nutritional supplements in brown culture wayyy before they became popular in the West. They are especially helpful for those suffering from consuming too much "heating food" (read here if you don't understand what I mean).
•red food coloring
First, make a simple syrup by melting 3 cups of sugar with 2 1/4 cups of water. Heat the syrup up slowly and stir occasionally. When the syrup starts to gently boil, take it off the heat. Add three tablespoons of rose water and enough red food coloring to achieve a deep red color.
Let the cordial cool completely. Store the concentrate in the fridge, ideally in an airtight glass bottle. It will store for a few months.
To serve, pour a few teaspoons of concentrated syrup into a glass and dilute with water. Some like it very sweet (me), others prefer a subtler rose flavor so do whatever feels right.