Have you ever thought of life without electricity? Which means no Fan, no light, no a/c no Fridge…Nightmarish right? But many villages in India still live that nightmare day and night. not even very long back that most of the Indian villages dint have electricity. We find it tough to deal with this fact because we have grown up with this facility. But when you don’t have it you find and devise your own way to deal with it.
My mamabari (maternal uncle’s home) is in a small village in the coastal area. Like everyone of you we loved spending our summer vacation there with grand parents and many sets of cousins. Though we were used to have electrical devices around us but we never seemed to miss it while spending time there. Every evening Mamima (Aunt) will take out all the hurricane lights and kerosene lamps to clean with a damp cloth. Later those would be lit for various household works and playing ludo before dinner. Often Dadu will bring dark green thick skinned water melons for our late afternoon get together in the verandah. My cousin brother will put the melon in a big polythene bag and will bury it in the sticky mud on the pond bank. The water will touch the mud on the melon and will make it cold and refreshing to wake us up from our afternoon siesta. Any left over food was reheated and placed on a hanging rack or in the net covered cupboard. So that the fresh air circulate on the food to keep it fresh for the next day.
As summer beverage Dida used to make many a variety of drinks which not only cooled the body but also was very good for health. Apart from lebu’r sharbot (lemonade) and aam pora sharbot (raw mango drink) she used to make drinks made from various roots (like shilajit), palo, Barley flour all of which had cooling and detoxifying properties. For stomach problems she often served us drink made from cold rice water (not the fermented toddy but drink made from water in which rice is soaked overnight). This tentul or tamarind drink was her medicine for people suffering from dysentery. We Bengalis believe purono tentul or preserved old tamarind is very good for digestion and dysentery and in many households including mine tamarind is preserved with generous sprinkle of salt every year.
Tentul or imli or tamarind according to Ayurveda is antimicrobial and is very good to treat gastric and/or digestion problems, and in cardioprotective activity. Please check this for its further benefits. As I understand giving out recipe involving tamarind is very difficult. Its all about balancing all the tastes. So depending on the tartness of the tamarind and your taste preference adjust the amount of sugar. Here I am writing down what I did.
Though my maa never made this drink but the Kolkata summer made me remember this refreshing drink. Its basically sweet but has a light sour taste that makes it special. When drunk with plenty of ice it will make you forget the heat or sweat. Trust me its kinda addictive. Generally this is made with misri or sugar crystals or rock sugar, which again is considered to be very cooling for the body. I used white rock candy but if its unavailable you can also use any kind of sugar.
Purono tentul er sharbot
Tamarind: size of a small ping pong ball
Rock sugar: 2 big pieces (almost two 2”X1” size piece)
(or use 4-6 tbsp white sugar)
Water: 5 cups
Black salt: 1/3 tsp
Bhaja masala: 1/3 tsp (click on the link for bhaja masala recipe) or substitute with dry roasted cumin powder.
Oil: 1/3 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1/3 tsp
Dry chili: 1
In a big bowl soak the tamarind with the water and rock sugar. Cover and let the rock sugar dissolve. Approx. ½ an hour. Then squeeze the tamarind and take out all the pulp. Mix well and strain. Let it stand for another 10-15 minutes or till the fine bits of the tamarind settles at the bottom. Now without disturbing the bits pour the clear water from the top.
Heat the oil and crackle the mustard seeds and dry chili in it. Pour in the tamarind water and immediately cover. Once the splattering sound stops remove the cover and add the salt and bhaja masala. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning as per your taste. Mine was sweet enough so I dint add any more sugar. Feel free to add more sugar or salt.
Switch of the flame and let it come to room temparature. You can strain the water now if needed. Chill in the fridge.
To serve fill 1/3 of a tall glass with ice and pour the sharbot.
to Kitchen Chronicles; heirloom recipe originally started by kalyani.
Tickling palates lets cook; chilled delights.
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