Sherbet or Sharbat recipe is a centuries old tradition of making drinks with crushed fruits, flowers and herbs in Central and South Asia. The very idea transports one back to the times of The Thousand and One Nights. The drink itself feels like a cool little oasis in a glass in the burning heat of summer – fragrant and soothing on nerves.

Sharbat word is essentially associated with sweetness. As alcoholic drinks are forbidden in Islam, different variations of Sharbat became a popular part of Muslim cuisine culture. The most famous remains Sharbat -e- Gulab or the one made with roses. But many other flowers and fruits are also combined with sugar and water, cooked to make a thick syrup which stays good for a long time if preserved properly. That syrup is then thinned, when required, with water and ice to be served as a cool beverage.

Imli Aloobukhra Sharbat is one of the most coveted of soft drinks in the heat of Lahore by people who still prefer fruit drinks over fizzy beverages. Street-side stands pop up everywhere, and grandmothers and mothers get busy making their own versions. It’s also a very satisfying drink for the month of Ramadan to hyderate the body after a several hours of fasting.

Tamarind seems to be a humble ingredient but it has amazing health benefits. The citric acid in tamarind hinders fat storage in body, it’s also a mild laxative and smooths the working of digestive system. Cures heartburns and bile disorders.
Plums are low in calories and rich in minerals and vitamins. To keep my Sharbat recipe healthy, I have replaced white sugar with unprocessed jaggery and I don’t make the sherbet very sweet. Ginger, cumin and a pinch of black salt help enhance the flavours immensely. You can even add fresh mint before serving and omit salt completely.

1 cup dry tamarind
1 cup dry plums
1/2 cup jaggery/gur or organic brown sugar
1 inch piece ginger
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon black salt or rock salt (optional)

This Is a What You Do:
Rinse dry tamarind and plums because sometimes they have grit in them.

Soak imli and aloobukhara in a big saucepan in 2 litres of warm water for half an hour.
Rub with hands to separate as much flesh from stones as is easily possible.

Place the entire thing, with stones, pulp and soaking water on stove to cook on low heat. Add a ginger. When the liquid is reduced to half, strain through a sieve or cheese cloth. Discard the ginger piece, stones/pits and hard bits of flesh.

Return the clear plum and tamarind juice to the same pan. Add jaggery/brown sugar, cumin and salt. Cook on a simmer for another 10-15 minutes or till the sugar dissolves and Sharbat thickens. Taste for the balance of sweet, sour and salty, adjust according to your preference.

Cool to room temperature, save in clean jar or bottle.

To prepare the drink, add 2-3 tablespoons of Sharbat to a glass, dilute with water and add lots of ice cubes to chill.

Serves 10-12

43 Replies to “Imli Aloobukhara Sharbat Recipe, Tamarind Plum Drink”

  1. This such an amazing and refreshing summer drink.. I do make Plum Panna but never added imli.. will try it soon for sure.. have a batch of plums lying in refrigerator..

  2. Such a refreshing drink, Maria! I can just imagine how good this combination must be on a hot day! Next time I have some dried plums, I’m definitely going to make this!

  3. I have lots of fresh plums to be used up, will make this refreshing sharbat soon. Sounds like a wonderful thirst quencher in summer days.

    1. Thank you, Priya! My family is addicted to this summer cooler, a healthy alternative to fizzy drinks.

    1. Thank you, Drashti! Jaggery and spices definitely boost the flavour and make the drink a very effective apéritif. 😊

  4. Loved the idea of using tamarind and dry plums and the addition of jaggery in place of sugar. Definitely need of the hour drink during summers and I wish I had a glass – tall glass right now!

    1. Haha! Thank you, Vidya! πŸ˜„ It’s getting too hot too fast here as well.
      Sending you a very tall glass. Cheers! 😊

  5. Great to know about the history of the word sherbet. This is a unique drink for me. Can we use fresh plum instead of dried ones? I haven’t ever seen dried plums. so, was wondering about it

    1. Jyoti, I’m sure you can use fresh plums too. The quantity might differ though because dried plums have a very concentrated sweet & sour flavour.

  6. This definitely is a unique sharbat as I have never heard of this combination. Looks nice and refreshing and I can already taste how beautifully sour it will be. Can’t wait to try

    1. Thank you, Nandita! 😊 The sweet and sour sherbet is really good to wake up dormant summer appetite. Do try, I’m sure you will love it 😊

  7. There is something that the Arabs make during Ramadan called Tamr Hindi which is a tamarind sherbet… this one sounds so similar to that, but the addition of the aloo bukhara makes it even more interesting… Having a glass of this super cold sherbet at the time of Iftar is something that nobody would want to not experience…

    1. Exactly, Rafeeda! Tamarind and aloobukhara being natural coolants, make delicious and very effective drinks for staying hydrated during hot weather, especially Ramadan.

    1. And you know what, Priya, you can freeze this sherbet into popsicles too if you are a fan of ice pops. How’s that idea? πŸ˜‰

  8. Such a unique recipe. As a person who love tamarind, I am sure I will love this drink. Now to find dry Alu Bukhara to try this. πŸ˜€

    1. I’m sure you will, Amber. I haven’t met a person so far who tried and didn’t fall in love with this one!

    1. Thank you, Shubha! I’m sure you will find this one very satisfying – both tastewise and as a coolant 😊

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