Monday, July 15, 2013

Iranian Summer Drinks

On these hot summer days, there is nothing that hits the spot quite like some refreshing Iranian sharbat, cool beverages. I made a glass of tokhme sharbati today, and it took me back to the summers I spent in Iran as a kid. Whenever we would finally arrive at someone's house after the 1.5-2 hour-stuck-in-insane-Tehran-traffic ride, we were offered a few things: as far as drinks, tea and/or one of a variety of sharbat, and then of course there was the standard fruit- usually watermelon, or kharboze, an elongated football shaped very sweet melon that I've never seen in the U.S. Even during the scorching summer months, Iranians still drink hot tea because it is thought to cool you down and khastegeet dar mireh, literally, your exhaustion will escape. Iced tea is non-existent, and Iranians can't quite wrap their heads around the fact that Americans drink iced tea. Ice in tea? It's near blasphemous! 

Popular sharbats are sharbat albaloo, ablimou, lemon or limade, and sharbats made with seeds. One such sharbat is tokhme sharbati, chia seed (yes, chia as in pet). Chia seeds have a lot of health benefits. They reduce food cravings, reduce blood pressure and are high in Omega-3s. When they are soaked in water, they form a gel that is known to hydrate. Aside from using them in sharbat, I usually sprinkle them in yogurt or on fruit. You can find chia seeds in any store- I get them from my local grocery store in the Latin food section. 



Another popular drink is khakshir, literally dirt/dust milk. It has no milk, so I'm not quite sure how that got in the name, but the tiny reddish brown seeds give it the appearance of dirt, but even that is a stretch. It's funny that I know the names of most herbs, spices and seeds in Persian but not in English because they aren't as popular here. So after doing a bit of research, khakshir seems to be mugwort seed, which if you are anything like me, that's probably about as helpful as the Persian. It's a good detox for the liver and good for constipation symptoms as well. I remember passing out from heat exhaustion once at Omar Khayyam's mausoleum in Neyshabur. When I came to, I was immediately given a glass of cold khakshir. Herbal medicine at its finest.

I'm not really big on recipes- I don't know how much of what to add because I usually make things "to taste", just adding and seeing what happens. So here is my un-recipe for tokhme sharbati and khakshir to serve one: one glass of cold water, a teaspoon of chia seeds or 2 teaspoons of khakshir, a splash of rose water, sugar or honey to sweeten (if you like), and ice cubes (optional). Stir together. For tokhme sharbati, wait a few minutes for the seeds to form the gel. 


Khakshir on top; Tokhme sharbati on bottom

In both of these sharbats, the seeds will constantly settle, so you need to stir, watch the seeds dance like a whirling dervish, sip and repeat. I have a little too much fun stirring, trying to capture shots of these dancing seeds. What can I say? It brings out the kid in me. So give these drinks a try! The seeds are tasteless, but you will walk away with the refreshing hint of rosewater that will make you say chasbeed, it hit the spot, (literally, it stuck).

Pontia

11 comments:

  1. Khakshir is Teff in English.

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    1. Thank you! So great to know finally! :)

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  2. This is awesome! I am self-teaching myself Persian, and I grew up with Iranians, so things like this help when I miss their culture. :) Thank you & merci!

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    1. That's so wonderful to hear! How long have you been studying Persian? Thank you so much for reading and for your comments!

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    2. Dear Ponita, Persian is d best language of Romance. Hamechi aroomeh, tu be man del basti.

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  3. Awesome drink, similar drink is prepared in Indian state of Rajasthan. Its called "Thandai"....literal meaning "Coolant". Shir like in Persian language is a milk drink, same way Kshir in Sanskrit language is a milk drink. Nowhere milk is used in this drink.

    In Rajasthan Kharbooje seed, Khas-Khas seeds, Saunf seeds, Elaichi etc are used in preparation of this drink for summer afternoon when its too Garm/ hot.

    Its a beautiful coolant. Thank you so much.

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  4. Awesome drink, Khakshir, similar drink is prepared in Indian state of Rajasthan..called "Thandai"..literal meaning "Coolant".
    We use Khas-khas seeds, Kharbooje seeds , Saunf, Elaichi etc...
    Shir like in Persian language is a milk drink...similarly in Sanskrit Kshir is a milk drink.
    But no one uses milk in preparation of this summer drink.

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  5. During old times when there was no mixer n grinder, all the required seeds used to be immersed in water for few hours since early morning. Then in afternoon ladies of the house used to grind on stone sill , then used to add cold water out of earthen pot to mix n then filter through cotton clothe. Awesome drink ..KHAKSHIR....n THANDAI.

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  6. This is really interesting.Thanks for sharing.

    Xtreme No

    Xtremeno

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  7. Thank you so much! :D
    I just arrived home from this years vaccation in Iran, and your un-recipe helped me a lot. I had bought two kinds of seeds in City Centre in Esfahan - khakshir and tokhme sharbati. They were in the plastic bag that I put them in at the store and I just put the bag in my suitcase with some clothes wrapped around it for protection. I never thought about separating the bags with the seeds and that was a big mistake on my behalf. When I reached my home in northern Sweden and opened my suitcase, I found that the small plastic bags had broken and a big part of the seeds had been blended in the big plastic bag. I saved what I could in two jars and then searched the internet for an instruction how to make khakshir and tokhme sharbati. I found your blog and then managed to produce the delicious drink that I tried in Esfahan. Thank you so much! :D

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    1. My pleasure :) I'm glad my blog could be of help. Actually, sometimes people even mix the seeds into one drink. Hope you enjoyed your trip to Iran! :)

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