Prasadam - Sharbat, Part Three


Jun 18, 2016 — CANADA (SUN) — A journey through India: border to border, bhoga to prasadam.

We find many examples in sastra where spiritual life is described by the metaphor of drinking nectarian beverages. In Caitanya-caritamrta we read, "There [Goloka Vrindavan] the devotee serves the lotus feet of the Lord, which are compared to a wish-fulfilling tree. With great bliss he tastes the juice of the fruit of love and becomes eternally happy." (Madhya 19.163).

There are many references in Caitanya-caritamrta to Mahaprabhu and His parishad associates quenching their thirst with refreshing beverages offered by the devotees. In Madhya 14.24-33, we read about the prasadam that King Prataparudra delivered through through Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, Ramananda Raya and Vaninatha Raya, which had been offered to Lord Jagannatha at the Balagandi festival. The great variety of prasad included many first class uncooked milk products and fruits. "There were curd, fruit juice, coconut, mango, dried coconut, jackfruit, various kinds of bananas and palm-fruit seeds." (14.26) "There were also papayas and saravati, a type of orange, and also crushed squash. There were also regular cream, fried cream and a type of puri made with cream." (14.29)

The crushed squash referred to here is most likely not the vegetable, squash, but rather a traditional Vedic beverage made of crushed fruits, called squash, which is one of the many types of sharbat. "There were yogurt, milk, butter, buttermilk, fruit juice, a preparation made of fried yogurt and sugar candy, and salty mung-dhal sprouts with shredded ginger." (14.33)

Among the most loved sharbats are those containing mango, such as the beverage mentioned in Govinda Lilamrta, verse 52: "…Oh Manojna! Make fresh mango juice, adding sugar and thick milk." The sharbat Mother Yasoda is requesting here is amravarta, a drink made from thickened mango juice.

There are so many ways to incorporate mango into sharbats, using both the ripest, sweetest fruits as well as green mango. For example, there is rasazukta, a sour beverage made from the juice of fruits like green mango. Kacchi Kairi Panna is a traditional favorite made of raw green mango, which has many healthful qualities. Green (raw) mango is an excellent source of Vitamin C, B1 and B2. Taken uncooked, it will heat the body, but when it's roasted over flame or boiled, it becomes a cooling agent. Surprisingly, roasting the raw mango is said to enhance the nutritional qualities.

Kacchi Kairi Panna


    1 cup Raw Mango
    4-1/2 cups Water
    Kala Namak (black salt) to taste
    1 cup Sugar
    2 Tblsp Cumin seeds, roasted and ground

Roast or boil the raw mangoes, then cool and remove skin. Finely mince the pulp, then press through a sieve to make it smooth. Dissolve the sugar in the water, then add the mango and spices. Serve chilled or on ice.

Ripe Mango Sharbat


    1 cup Ripe Mango, diced
    1 Tblsp fresh Lemon juice
    1 Tblsp Orange juice
    6 Tblsp Rose syrup
    2 cups Club Soda or sparkling water
    a few fresh Peppermint leaves
    Ice cubes

In a blender, process the mango, lime and orange juice, rose syrup and ice cubes to a fine pulp. Fill two glasses half-full with club soda on ice, top the glass off with the mango blend, and garnish the sharbat with fresh mint.

Both grapes and berries made excellent sharbats, and grape (angoor) is probably one of the most commonly enjoyed sharbats of all, because the fruit is so abundantly available. Amla (Gooseberries), although called a berry, are more of a grape-like fruit, having a juicy center that's contained in a soft skin. Recipes for both sharbats follow:

Angoor Sharbat


    1 pound Grapes
    1 Orange, zested
    1/4 tsp Cardamom seeds
    4 whole Cloves
    6 cups Grape Juice (angoor ka raas)
    ¼ cup Honey
    3-inch piece of Cinnamon
    2 cups Sparkling Water

Extract the juice from the grapes by bringing to a boil in scant water, squashing them to split open the skins. Lightly boil for several minutes, until the grapes are reduced to a soft mush. Press the fruit through a sieve or cheesecloth to remove the solids, and reserve the liquid.

Next, tie the orange zest, cardamom and cloves into a small piece of cheesecloth. In a small pan, bring the grape juice and honey to a near boil, then remove from the heat. Add the spice bag, cover, and set aside until the mixture has cooled. Serve on ice, mixing a half glass of the grape juice with a half glass of sparkling water. Garnish with fresh mint, and offer.

Amla ka Sharbat


    1 pound Amla (Gooseberries)
    1 cup Sugar
    ½ tsp Cumin powder
    ½ tsp. Kala namak (black salt)
    1 cup Water, chilled
    a few fresh Mint leaves

Boil the fresh amla in hot water till they are somewhat soft, squishing the split the skins. Lightly boil for several minutes until soft. Press the fruit through a sieve or cheesecloth to remove the solids, and reserve the liquid. Add the amla liquids to the cold water and blend. Add the sugar and spices and mix thoroughly. Serve on ice with fresh mint.

Amla (Gooseberries)

There are so many fruits, herbs and flowers that can be used to make sharbat, we can't begin to mention them all here. You will find many additional sharbat recipes here, in the prasadam section. For today, our last featured sharbat is Bel (bael), or Wood Apple, one of the most nutritionally rich and medicinally potent of all the sharbat fruits.

Bel is a natural source of sugar, pectin, gum and fiber, and is an excellent digestive aid and cooling agent for the body. The Bel tree is also known as the Vilva, a sacred tree in which Laksmi Devi is said to reside.

Like mangos, raw (green) and ripe Bel fruits have very different properties from one another. Raw Bel is bitter and pungent, and it heats the body. The ripe fruit is very sweet, and has a cooling effect. Green Bel is recommended for treating arthritis, since it generates heat in the body. Half-ripened fruit is used to treat diarrhea and dysentery, while fully ripened fruit is used to generally cool and soothe the digestive system.

Bel (Wood Apple) Sharbat


    1 ripe wood apple
    ½ cup sugar or honey
    Chilled Water

Simply break open the wood apple and scoop out the pulp. Mix with sugar, cover it and leave for 2 to 3 hours. Mash the liquefied pulp and force through a sieve. Add chilled water to the fruit pulp and serve. To use as a digestive aid, Bel Sharbat should be taken on an empty stomach.


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