The Royal Sharbat

The Royal Sharbat

Sharbat was introduced to India by the Mughals in the 16th century. The word sherbet, or sharbat, comes from the Arabic “sharab” which, contrary to what one may think, is not “alcoholic beverage” but just any beverage or “heavenly drink”

The Emperor Humayun — was immensely fond of Sharbat. All beverages in the royal household began being flavored with fruits and herbs with great medicinal values. There were hakims, practitioners of the unani medicine, who made concoctions with fruits, flowers and herbs for The Royalty. The sherbet seems to have seeped into India thanks to Nur Jahan, she was the one who popularized Sharbat. 

The grand Mughals, who were sufi in their temperament, used to have a drink of red wine from Shiraz mixed with rose sherbet. The shiraz wine that we have today, from the old French grape varietal Syrah, is a descendant of that wine. To mix sherbet into it may sound scandalous, but think again: that is exactly what a Bellini is — the cocktail at fancy brunches that mixes Italian prosecco with peach puree. Ideas and drinks have no geographies, only convoluted histories.

Mughal Emperors were immensely fond of Saharbat’s, in fact Ice was brought from the Himalayan Mountains to keep the drinks cool and palatable. Ice, used for cooling drinks and making frozen desserts, was brought daily from the Himalayas by an elaborate system of couriers.”

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