This post is from the archives, but one I turn to a lot at this time of year so I thought it was worth re-sharing! Rooh Afza is the perfect drink during summer and with preparation for Eid festivities in full force this week I’ve seen it lined up everywhere from my local Indian grocery store to my neighbourhood Walmart.
Read on for my Rooh Afza story from childhood, and a recipe for a delicious Rooh Afza Lemonade with mint. I also feel the need to say…these pictures are not the greatest, but they were taken by me and not my extraordinary photographer!
As I grow older I’ve started to notice a very strange trend; foods I avoided as a child are becoming my favourites – comfort foods of sorts. I’m not sure if it’s because my palette has matured as an adult, or if those foods come with a sort of nostalgia. One of my new favourites is Rooh Afza.
Rooh Afza is basically a sweet, sticky syrup made from fruits, herbs, and vegetables. It was originally created by a Pakistani physician in 1906 as a cooling agent, using a particular blend of herbs to help people deal with sweltering heat and has a very strong rose flavour. There are various stories floating out there on the internet about the quality of Rooh Afza these days, but it is still found in almost every Indian/Pakistani home, especially in the summer months. Traditionally, Rooh Afza is served in milk – that’s how my mom used to try to get me to drink it as a kid.
At the time I really disliked the taste, but recently a bottle of Rooh Afza caught my eye during a visit to Fruiticana and I picked one up for nostalgia sake. Maybe it’s because I’ve developed a love for rose flavoured foods, or maybe it’s because it reminds me of my Bibi (maternal grandma) drinking the pink syrup in milk and always getting a milk mustache. She would just walk around with the milk mustache for the longest time until we bugged her to wipe it off.
- 4 cups of chilled water
- 4 tbsp Rooh Afza syrup
- 1-2 tbsp of sugar to taste (this is optional, taste it before adding sugar)
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 5-7 mint leaves
- Ice as needed
Muddle the mint leaves just a little to release the flavour and place at the bottom of your pitcher. Add water to the pitcher first, and then add lemon juice, Rooh Afza, and sugar and stir well. Serve over ice.