Refreshing Bel Sharbat / Wood Apple Summer drink with no added sugar.
Refreshing sharbat is all that a hot summer afternoon calls for and a wandering mind settles at the popular bel sharbat from my dad in-law’s kitchen.
Bel also is known as Bengal Quince, or Wood apple, is popular summer fruit and Bel sharbat, or bel squash is widely consumed in India as it is refreshing and great thirst quencher.
Bel or AEGLE MARMELOS, surprisingly came to my book of knowledge very late in life while I was studying Ayurveda, and this is a largely spoken about plant in Ayurveda, for its great healing properties…..and when we were introduced to this fruit, is when I realised I have seen mom offering the leaves from this plant to Lord Shiva…and that is when I discovered its sacred value to Hindu’s.
Bel fruit has different properties when it is raw. Raw fruit is used to treat constipation. But a ripe fruit which takes about 11 months to ripen is well known Pitta Dosha pacifier ( Pitta is the Heat element in the body constitution as per Indian system of medicine in Ayurveda). Thus a ripe fruit pulp makes a great choice to treat heat stroke or dysentry.
Bel fruit is described to taste like marmalade and smell like roses and is naturally sweet. So when I use it to make sharbat, I refrain from using added sugar. But if I wish my kids to enjoy it, I as an Anxious mother do add some amount of sugar/ jaggery.
Bel Sharbat was never a drink of choice at my home as a child. and Mom had other recipes for her summer cooling drinks which will soon come upon other posts through the series, but Bel Sharbat has another tale from my household to it. When I got married, first summers my Dad in Law will bring Bel fruit every other day, and all by himself, scoop out its pulp and I could always see a bowl filled with water and soaked pulp on my kitchen counter. Curiosity changed in inquisitions and I soon asked for a glass of the strange smelling drink he would make out of the bel fruit he soaked. In the first sip, Bel sharbat tasted yuck as he would not add extra sugar and would consume it too diluted for his own acquired taste reasons. But eventually as tried my hands on making it, I did my own changes. A bit of taste differs with households and personal choices. So I stuck to my own recipe, but still can’t thank him enough to have taught me a new thing which added to my culinary diary.
Frankly, bel sharbat is actually a tasty refreshing drink and my hatred soon turned into an affection top this summery drink and it found a place in my kitchen also through the summers each year now. It is an acquired flavour which might take an instance or few to get used to the astringent peachy taste.