A traditional Syrian refreshment, Sharab Tamr Hendi (Tamarind Drink), is a tart yet refreshing juice, sold by street vendors in cultural garb during the summer and Ramadan.
It’s time for the MENA (Middle Eastern & North African) Cooking Group. This monthly group has for goal to help us discover the culture and cuisine of the countries found in these parts of the world. The host of the month will choose two savory and a sweet dish from the country and the members pick one dish to make. This month we are off to a country we have all heard a lot about over the last few years: we will explore beautiful but war torn Syria and we will honor it with a Sharab Tamr Hendi, or Tamarind Drink.
Syria is located in Western Asia, bordered by Lebanon, the Mediterranean Sea, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Israel. The capital Damascus is among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Syria is populated by a diverse mix of ethnic and religious groups, such as Syrian Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Circassians, Mandeans and Turks. Its history has always been tumultuous, right now it being one of the most dangerous place ever to live in. I am not one to usually delve into political subjects but this time I will make an exception.
Following in the steps of other countries, Syria has been embroiled in an uprising against Assad and the Ba’athist government as part of the Arab Spring. In January 2011, during a protest, a police officer assaulted a man in public and later arrested him. More protests occurred to defend this man. A group of teens protested in the form of graffiti art against the government. These kids were arrested and said to be tortured. All these events, and more, led the country into an ongoing civil war against the Syrian government and other opposition forces. Right now Syria is a country ravaged by human rights violations and massacre. A day does not go by without us seeing on the news stories of more than 5 million Syrian refugees trying to find a better life outside Syria. Those still living there know poor living conditions with little food and clean water. In Canada, we are getting ready right now to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees within the next few weeks. It’s a start.
Syrian cuisine is influenced by the many cultures that have settled over centuries. One will find roots in Islamic, Persian and Turkish cuisine, as well as Levantine cuisines (Lebanese, Palestinian, Jordanian and Iraqi). You will find common dishes like meze (appetizers), kibbeh, kebab, hummus, tabbouleh, fattoush, labneh, shawarma. But also more original ones like Mahshi, fattah, halabi, waraq `inab, mujaddara, shanklish, bastirma and sujuk. Syrians make a huge variety of sweets, like cookies made to accompany their cheeses. A Syrian endemic spice mix called baharat mushakalah is made up of cumin, black pepper, cloves, coriander and many other spices.
Tamarind is a pod-like fruit known in Arabic as Tamr Henid. One can use a young unripe fruit – it will have green pulp – in savory dishes or for pickling. At this stage it is very sour. When ripe the flavors mellow but it remains tart in nature. Tamarind can be found in jam, juice, drink, sorbet, and ice cream recipes, as well as savory dishes and other snacks. Oddly enough, the pulp can be used as a metal polish to.
Sharab Tamr Hendi, or Tamarind Drink, is usually sold by street vendors during the summer and also during Ramadan. You will find them walking around the old market places and allies, usually costumed in a traditional outfit. Sharab means a drink prepared with fruit. This tart drink is said to be very refreshing and it claims to have medicinal traits, such as an antibacterial properties.
This tamarind drink recipe was inspired by the one suggested at Orange Blossom Water. I could not find the dried fruit but I did find wet pulp so I adjusted. Thank you to MENA Cooking Club and to our host this month: Joumana.
Sharab Tamr Hendi (Tamarind Drink)
- 1 cup tamarind wet pulp
- 8 cups water
- 1/2 cup sugar or to taste
- 1 tbsp rose water
- Break up pulp into smaller pieces. Place the pulp in a saucepan with 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- Squeeze the paste with your fingers to loosen it up. Put the mixture in a cheesecloth and tie the ends well. Add cheesecloth to 6 cups of warm water and let it steep for 2 hours.
- Squeeze the cheesecloth to extract juice and some pulp.
- Stir in sugar and rose water. Chill and serve cold.
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Having never tried tamarind before, it’s hard for me to imagine the flavor of this drink. It certainly looks good. Need to find me some tamarind. You have piqued my curiosity.
This reminds me of Philippines as we use tamarind alot, I had tried in drink once but mostly in savoury soups. I will try this one out
Now I ant to try your savory soup, got a recipe to share?
Have never tried this drink but I can imagine how wonderful it must be. We have a similar drink named Jal Jeera (recipe is at my blog) that is very popular in summers in north India. It is tamarind based with cumin to spice it up. (we Indians can’t help adding spices to everything that we consume 😛 )
Oh yes I think I remember seeing that post when you put it up. Hey spices are there to make you sweat and stay cool, the spicier the better (to a certain extent lol)
I’ve got some tamarind and I’m going to try this today. It’s hot and a refreshing drink would be perfect.
That is great Maureen, let us know how it turns out 🙂
This is one of my favorite drinks, specially during the month of Ramadan. I make this but without the rose water… actually I am drooling now thinking of how tart and sweet I like it to be LOL
So glad you know it Amira, I can see how some would prefer no rose water but the drink is so tart you bare notice the rose.
I am typically a juice drinker, but hey I love trying new things, I think this sounds absolutely tempting. I may have to try this out. Thanks Evelyne and I hope you’re having a great holiday.
Kia / house of KTS
It is a juice Kia, just a different way of making it 🙂 Hope you give it a shot.
Such an unusual cocktail! But I’d definitely love to try it out. Hope you’re having a terrific weekend!
Thanks Liz it is very different. Off to bake Christmas cookies today, hope your weekend is good to!
I’ve tried dried tamarind before – it tasted so complex and addictive! I’m sure this drink is really yummy!
It really is and very different, enjoy if you make it!
I love tamarind, and I can only imagine how refreshing and complex this drink is. I need to try it!
Glad you know tamarind so well already and you will love this drink.
It looks so refreshing and I love the combination of sweet and sour so this drink will be on my list of drinks to try next Ramadan.
Thank you and hope you enjoy more of it for sure next Ramadan
I don’t think I tried this drink while in the middle east. And I have tamarind at home so I can make it over the holidays 🙂
Oh so cool you have some at home Tanday, hope you give it a try!
I must give this a try. I love tamarind and when we were in Thailand we would snack on it fresh! It was so sweet but tart too 🙂
I have snacked on it fresh too, so good. Hope you try this recipe!
This sounds like a really tasty drink, Evelyne.
Thank you Angie 🙂
I would love to try this as I keep having this during iftar buffets here… looks so good…
Oh would love to try an original one from an iftar buffet!
Evelyne, great to learn your version of this tamr drink with wet pulp.. 🙂
Thanks I had to work with what I found 🙂