Jallab is a popular Middle Eastern drink, a traditional mixture of dates syrup, grape molasses and rose water. The ready-made syrup is usually found in Arabic shops, along with other syrups like Tamarind, Grenadine and Qamar-el-din. It is priced anywhere between 800 fils to 2 dinars per 500 ml, depending on the quality and brand.
The syrup is diluted with iced water to prepare a reviving summer cooler. Sometimes plain dates syrup is mixed with iced water, flavoured with few drops of rose water and raisins added to achieve the same taste as the beverage prepared with Jallab syrup. Being made of dates, Jallab is a preferred choice for iftars during Ramadan.
The ingredients list of a top quality Jallab syrup I purchased read as: sugar, dates, water, caramel, citric acid, sodium benzoate as preservative and colour E129. I was flummoxed because there was no mention of grapes or roses. Nevertheless, I was eager to try it and see how it tasted.
- 3-5 tbsp of Jallab Syrup
- ¼ Glass Crushed Ice
- ¾ Glass Cold Water
- Few Pine Nuts
- Few Golden Raisins
Instructions to make up the syrup into a beverage:
- Fill a tall glass with crushed ice.
- Pour 3 tbsp of Jallab syrup on to the ice.
- Add cold water and mix thoroughly. Check the drink’s taste and add more syrup, if you feel it is not sweet enough.
- Add the customary golden raisins and pine nuts to the drink. These introduce an element of interest in an otherwise plain drink.
- Finally spruce up the presentation with a squiggle straw and a spoon.
Intersperse sips of beverage with pauses to dig into the raisins, pine nuts and chew them. That completes the Jallab experience.
I reckon that the dark brown beverage with some light coloured pine nuts afloat, is sheer joy to behold; it is pleasantly sweet, has a slight hint of rose fragrance (!) and a tad of tanginess (may be from the citric acid). I can not say for sure if rose water and grape molasses were also present in the syrup, may be they were there but not declared on the food label or may be the other ingredients together brought about a simulated effect. Whatever, Jallab is a befitting summer cooler.
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