Rooh Afza: Uplifting The Soul & Spirit This Ramazan
Extremely delicious and one of India's most beloved summer cooler, Rooh Afza makes way to our hearts easily! A recipe made with more than 20-ingredients, this super healthy, natural elixir consists of spinach, khas khas, sandalwood, carrot, watermelon, mint, water lilies endive, coriander seeds, a distilled mix of Rosa damascena or the damask rose! It was originally made as a medicinal syrup, thus the name, Rooh Afza, which in Persian means, 'One that enhances the spirit and uplifts the soul'.
This rose-flavoured drink is manufactured by Hamdard Laboratories India, plays an almost ritualistic role during the holy month of Ramzan, being the preferred way to break the day-long fast for many.
While this year, Rooh Afza stocks are in abundance, unlike the crisis last year, Ramzan comes at a time when the summers are at its peak! Only this year, it'll be each one celebrating and enjoying their childhood favourite indoors while reminiscing the good old days. From Rooh Afza or rose milk to sherbet and the famous Falooda, everything will be made at home this year.
However much Rooh Afza is loved in other parts of the country, the story of Kashmir with it is entirely different. Marryam Reshii, curator of the prestigious Times Food Guide for Delhi & Kashmir tells us, "Although a cooling beverage Rooh Afza doesn't sit well with the climate of Kashmir that is so cold, the last thing you want is a cooling drink. Instead, Kann ‘Sharbat’ is mostly associated with Ramzan in Kashmir. It is a drink made with Chia seeds/sabja seeds soaked in water during the day and when they fluff up, sugar is added." It is one of the popular beliefs in Kashmir that "Drinking this at Iftar, immediately after a date or two is in ‘imitation’ of Prophet Muhammad", she says.
For all those missing their favourite Khau-Gallis at this point in time, let's recreate that experience at home with these Rooh Afza recipes you could make this Ramzan:
1. Falooda is a drink consisting of cold milk, sabja (basil seeds), rose syrup, sweetened vermicelli among other accompaniments. Falooda with ice-cream is truly loved; best of both world's combining to make one gorgeous recipe, loaded with nuts, fresh fruits, sabja, vermicelli et al.
Ready-to-make Falooda Pack (available in the grocery stores)
6 – 7 tsp sugar
1 ½ cup water
5-6 tsp Rooh Afza
2. Kulfi is an Indian-styled, unchurned ice-cream that is best eaten during the summer months. With a fusion on Rooh Afza, it becomes a delicacy during the Ramzan period too!
150-200 ml Rooh Afza
A few strands of saffron (optional)
4 green cardamoms
1/2 cup chopped nuts like unsalted pistachios, almonds, walnuts (optional)
3. Rabri Falooda where along with ice-cream or kulfi, rabri (thickened, sweetened milk) is added for the creamy, soft texture.
For the rabdi:
1 litre - milk
7 tbsp - sugar
For the falooda:
50 gm - falooda
5 tbsp - sugar
8 - green cardamoms, peeled and powdered
20 strands - saffron, soaked in 2 tbsp hot water
1.5 cups - water.
4. Jelly Falooda is made with regular jelly mix with flavoured gelatin/agar-agar pudding along with ice-cream. Bringing a child-like joy when it wobbles, this recipe is children's delight in more ways than one.
1 pack of Raspberry jelly crystals (Rex or Kings are favoured brands)
400 ml water or as suggested on the pack
Top it up with Rooh Afza
5. Rose Milk which ideally means Rooh Afza mixed with cold milk and ice is, in fact, the easiest and most loved recipe during Ramzan. It is indeed a glass full of happiness on a summer day or during Iftar.
200 ml Milk
4-5 Ice Cubes
3-4 tsp Rooh Afza
6. Rooh Afza Lemonade is a magic potion during the month of Ramzan after fasting the entire day. Made with 4-5 ingredients, this easy to make Rooh Afza recipe is a must-try!
2-3 tbsp Rooh Afza Syrup
Chilled Water or Soda
2 tbsp Lemon Juice
In Urdu, Rooh Afza means ‘something that refreshes the soul’. It was first created in 1908 by Hakim Hafiz Abdul Majeed as a herbal medicine to cure heat-related ailments in old Delhi such as heat strokes, palpitations and water loss. It was turned into a recreational drink decades later.
“When they made Rooh Afza for the first time, the flavour and smell were so enticing that a crowd began to gather,” Abdul Majeeb told Gulf News in 2016.
Following the Partition of India, most of the Hamdard family moved to Pakistan. “Only my grandfather, Hakeem Abdul Hameed, and his two sons stayed. His younger brother, Hakim Mohammad Said, went to Pakistan but my grandfather said, ‘I will not be able to leave India because it is my motherland,” said Majeeb. Both brothers continued the Hamdard legacy across the newly-etched borders.
Although stepping out is not an option this year during Ramzan, virtual experiences with Rooh Afza creations could come closest to those nostalgic yet heart-warming memories.