October 11, 2012

Sharbat, from Shadow Spinner

When I turned around, Zaynab was looking at me; she quickly averted her eyes.  A pigeon sat on her shoulder, pecked at her gray hair.  Her robes were mottled with telltale white streaks.  "Would you..." Again she seemed shy.  "Would you like a cup of sharbat?"
                    --Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher, Chapter 7

This is one of my childhood favorites -- one of those now-battered books I read in a corner over and over again.  I'd been planning all summer to make sharbat in honor of this book, but summer slipped away from me.

From what I've read, sharbat has meant a few different things over time and space, but one common meaning is a syrup, diluted by water or milk, used to create a drink.  The context of the scene matches that.  No specific flavor was mentioned, though.  I first tried to use fresh fruit, but alas couldn't get the flavors concentrated enough.  That meant I grabbed nectar instead, which, on the upside, makes this recipe super easy (it is, essentially, a simple syrup).

Apricot-Clove Sharbat
1 1/2 Cup Apricot Nectar (or an 11 ounce can -- I used the Jumex stuff available on the cheap at Winco, if you're lucky enough to have a Winco nearby)
15 cloves
1 cup Sugar

1. Combine all ingredients together in a small sauce pan.  Heat on low until sugar dissolves.  If you boil it, you're on your way to making candy instead of syrup.

2. Remove from heat.  Refrigerate. This makes about 1 3/4 cup of syrup.  The longer it sits in the fridge, the stronger the clove taste will become.  I like it at about three days.

3. To prepare, strain the cloves and mix 1/4 cup of the syrup in 3/4 cup water. Or, instead of water, milk.  Or, to completely deviate from the book, club soda.  Yum.  This makes a pretty sweet drink, so dilute further, if desired.

*Special thanks to Chris for help with my broken camera problems!


  1. Thanks! This was really fun to work up.

  2. "Childhood favorite" and seeing the book was published in 1998 just made me, personally, feel really old Megan! I'm really going to have to try one of these recipes.

  3. I didn't realize it was that recent...I must have read it when it first came out.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this.