Sharbat is generally considered a sweet-tasting, pleasant-smelling drink that is usually comprised of Rooh Afza syrup, cardamom seeds, pistachios, cashews, and almonds. It is most often diluted with water, milk, or evaporated milk, and is served over ice. The drink is popular in India and Pakistan, and most people there drink it during the extreme hot summers to stave off dehydration. Rooh Afza syrup, which is responsible for the pink color of sharbat, is typically made of various herbs, watermelon extract, coriander seeds, and rose petals. People who do not live in India may be able to purchase it at Pakistani or Indian grocery stores if they cannot find it at a local grocery store.
Until the 1950s, sharbat was generally considered the preferred sweet beverage in both India and Pakistan. When Coca-Cola® was released, many people began to choose it instead. Sharbat, however, is still widely consumed and is occasionally served in restaurants, sometimes as a syrup to pour over various desserts. There are a variety of different ways to make it, some of which include the addition of alcohol. Varying the herbs and flowers that are used to make the drink can give it a different taste and scent.
One common method of making sharbat is to grind up one teaspoon (5 ml) of cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle. One and a half cups (360 ml) of Rooh Afza syrup and eight cups (1920 ml) of fine-grained sugar are then dissolved into one gallon (4 quarts) of whole milk. Nuts, such as almonds, cashews, and pistachios, are finely crushed and mixed in with the milk, along with the powder from the cardamom seeds and two teaspoons (10 ml) of vanilla extract. Some people taste the drink at this point and add more Rooh Afza syrup or sugar if the mixture doesn't taste sweet enough. The sharbat is usually refrigerated overnight and consumed the next day.
Although sharbat is usually considered a drink native to India, the Turks and Persians may have brought it over when they invaded the area centuries ago. Some people use the old-fashioned method for making the drink. The essence of flowers were added to corn syrup, which was usually made by boiling sugar cane juice. Now that corn syrup is usually available in most grocery stores, it does not have to be made from scratch. When making sharbat, corn syrup is still occasionally used.