Drinks Recipes

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Rooh Afza, Summer Drink of The East Recipe

I've featured sharbat (the South Asian equivalent of the Western chocolate milk for kids) in the past. The key ingredient in sharbat is a product called Rooh Afza, which is a syrup made of flower petals such as Gulab (Rose), coriander seeds, kewra and watermelon extract.  It literally translates to "that which tempts your soul".

Rooh Afza is fairly versatile and is used in many other drinks and desserts. One such recipe is similar to sharbat, but without the milk and nuts. I often make this drink when I need to cool off a bit. It's very refreshing and light.


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Basil Mint Lemonade Recipe

Basil Mint Lemonade

09.24.09 by Jackie

It's already the end of the summer and I've been making every effort to get the best use out of the leftover mint and basil in my herb garden. With the basil, I've made a lot of pesto that I store in the freezer for the winter. There isn't enough left for an additional sauce, and I've always wanted to try a basil infused drink, so today I made a basil lemonade, basil limeade, to be more precise. Sweet basil can be a bit subtle, so I wanted to pair it with another herb to give the drink some kick.

Mint immediately came to mind. I've made drinks all summer using the different kinds of mint we have, including spearmint, peppermint, Vietnamese mint, and apple-mint. I still, however, have a lot of leftover chocolate mint in the garden. Lulu planted it for me a few years ago and it's been growing literally like weeds. It's not as strong as the other mint varieties, so it complements the basil in the limeade I made today without overpowering it. It may sound odd, but it's a really fun, beautiful and delicious drink.

I wish I had tooken the main picture but it is not mine. It was taken by a brilliant photographer named Ken Phuong. He's currently shooting with a team of photographers in the Bay Area.

how to make basil-mint limeade


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Sweet Tamarind Drink (Nuoc Da Me) Recipe

Nước đá me, literally "tamarind ice cubes" in Vietnamese, is a fairly common drink in Vietnam. It's served in various ways, such as with salted key lime rind preserves, but today I made it with fresh pineapple purée. It's sweet and tart at the same time but most important, it's so refreshing!

Tamarind is quite popular in Asian and South Asian cooking. I usually eat the fresh pods as they are, and use tamarind concentrate or tamarind powder for cooking.


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Saffron Lemonade Recipe

Saffron Lemonade

09.02.09 by Jackie

This is actually saffron limeade. I got this recipe from my husband. His family has been making this drink for many years. Lemonades and limeades provide a wonderful canvas upon which other flavors can be layered.

The addition of saffron to the drink imparts a luxurious fragrance and flavor, as well as an exotic orange-yellow tint. Saffron is a spice derived from the saffron crocus. Saffron is comprised of the stigma and style (stalk) of the plant, and it's the most expensive spice in the world.

If you're looking for something special to serve at a summer lunch or barbeque, saffron limeade would be the perfect choice. Consider pairing it with Spanish paella, where saffron is also used in the preparation of the rice.


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Ginger Lemongrass Drink Recipe

Ginger Lemongrass Drink

08.27.09 by Jackie

Xả gừng literally translates to lemongrass and ginger. I love lemongrass, and the flavor it imparts to the drink is very pleasant and refreshing on a hot day.

Lemongrass (xả) is very common in Vietnamese cuisine. It is considered a mild diuretic, tonic and stimulant. Lemongrass is typically sold in packs of 5 stalks, and can be quite expensive. Last year, I asked Lulu whether we could grow it at home, and in response he planted 4 "bushes".  They are doing quite well, and since it is a perennial, we keep getting fresh stalks. If you're planning on cooking a lot of Asian cuisine, consider investing in some lemongrass.


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