Trying to quench the summer thirst

The heat wave of Delhi almost vanished as the talks of Sharbat Mela at Dilli Haat began. The experiences of previous years at this popular fest of drinks, brought back cooling memories to each and every mind.

But to the visitors’ utter dismay, the edition this year was not so elaborate.Conducted for four days i.e. from May 30 to June 2, the Sharbat Mela promised to be a gala affair but turned out to be otherwise. Unlike 15-20 stalls previously, this time there were only seven-eight and that too included unnecessary additions like a stall for mouth fresheners! One wondered, how was a mouth freshener related to sharbat?

There were the odd one outs like a kulfi stall from Delhi-6 (read Chandni Chowk) and a chuski stall from Turkman Gate. But since both kulfi and chuski helped visitors beat the heat and were delicious too, they were still accepted.

The stall set up by Delhi-6 Kulfi Parlour from Sita Ram Bazaar offered a variety of mouth-watering kulfis ranging from stick kulfi, kulfi-faluda to stuffed kulfi in natural fruits like mango and apple and kulfi in rare flavours such as jamun and falsa.

A foodies delight, the stall became a favourite with school kids and families. On the other hand, the Shabnam-e-Sharbat Chuski Stall set up by MD Gulzar attracted even foreigners to their triangle-shaped chuskis available in flavours of khus, rose, lemon and the all time favourite, kala khatta.

In between the two, there were two-three stalls of sharbats including one set up Real Juice. The other two were Hitkary’s bottled sharbats and Navdanya’s organic sharbats. Both were equally good. The Hitkary sharbats offered their visitors ‘taste and purchase’ from a range of 16 sharbats including rose, jeera, khus, shahi kewra, kesari thanda, belgiri syrup, lemon twist, zafran and aam panna.

“Ninety per cent of these are water-based while 10 per cent are milk-based. The kesari thandai, shahi rose and sharbat-e-fida are these 10 per cent which when tried in milk give an enhanced taste,” shared JK Jain, the stall manager while helping the visitors taste a sample of their choice. The proof of tasting their sharbat was the silver varq that the drinkers spotted on each others lips!

Those who visited this stall often got confused as to which ones to buy since all tasted good but at Navdanya’s each knew what exactly he/she were going to take home. While few liked the chilled and fresh aam panna, others opted for bel panna and the rest tried sattu pani to beat the heat. The stall had an interesting range of organic squashes like - litchi, rose, ginger, malta and pudina along with a Burans sharbat. The latter is made from the Rhododendron flower which has healing properties and is known to cure heart-related problems. But the thirst for more options or varieties of ‘sharbats’ remained unquenched!

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