As a masalamomma myself, I believe that it is important to continue some traditions with your own children, even though they are growing up in a different country. It’s not easy, as tastes here are very different to the ones we grew up with, however, a healthy appreciation for culinary traditions is a really important step in making sure that kids understand and appreciate the homelands of their parents.
If you grew up in the sub-continent, you will have come across Rooh Afza. An herbal rose syrup, it was developed by Hakim Abdul Majeed (also the founder of the waqf Hamdard Laboratories) in 1907, and was traditionally used to break the Ramadan fast and as iftar.
Today, it is one of the best selling syrup concentrates in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and almost every household will have a bottle to make cool, refreshing lemonades that are particularly welcome during the scorching hot sub-continent summers. Rooh Afza boasts the use of over twenty herbs, seeds, flowers and fruit to make its distinctive syrup. The top notes are of sweet rose and keora flower with a burst of citrus at the end.
I grew up drinking Rooh Afza in India, and for me, the taste is indelibly associated with my summer holidays. Come April and May, we were usually packed off to relatives and friends, and we would happily racket around the town, playing all sorts of imaginary games and getting into all sorts of trouble. Everything was smoothed over, however, when we came back, and there would always be a sparkling jug of icy rose scented lemonade waiting for us in the fridge. The first taste of the fragrant delicious drink was always the best. Cold, sweet, tangy and refreshing – it was certainly one of the tastes of an Indian childhood.
Rooh Afza is extremely sweet and I recommend using it with caution. Start with one tablespoon, then taste and add more, according to your preference. It is available in pretty much any South Asian grocery store in Canada, and I have also found it in the South Asian section in Superstore.
Along with sharbat, or lemonade, another popular way of using Rooh Afza is the syrup stirred into milk. Think strawberry milk (but more fragrant and sweeter) In this recipe, I’ve ripped off this popular ‘rose milk’, and turned it into rose lassi creamsicles, blending East and West into one refreshing, chilled dessert for children and adults alike.
More about Michelle
Michelle is a food writer, recipe developer and photographer, and writes for The Tiffin Box. She loves developing original recipes influenced by her family and her East Indian, British and Canadian heritage, all with a strong focus on using fresh, local and sustainable ingredients.
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