Drinks to look forward to during Ramadan
This is the beverage of choice during Ramadan. It was introduced to the Middle East in 1928 and quickly became the go-to drink for breaking the fast during the holy month. Vimto, made with a secret recipe of mixed red berries, is sold as a cordial in a glass bottle and as a carbonated soft drink in a can. Though it originated in England in 1908, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are continually the top markets for Vimto sales each year. Emirati Alamira Noor Bani Hashim, co-owner of No.FiftySeven Boutique Cafe in Abu Dhabi, says: “Vimto is my favourite drink during Ramadan. I love its sweetness and since I don’t eat dates, I have Vimto.”
Vimto’s biggest competition: Tang. This US-made orange powdered fruit juice is especially sought after during Ramadan and is a favourite drink for mums to serve. Tang’s television ad campaign this Ramadan is called “Waiting for the Iftar Moment” and is targeted to mums who serve it up to their little ones during Ramadan. It is, indeed, a drink loved by kids. Laila Rihawi, public relations manager at The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, says: “I don’t drink Tang as much now. But I associate it with my summers spent with family in Syria. It was always the drink served when we entertained guests – and in the different flavours for variety of course.”
This Ramadan favourite is made with carob, dates, grape molasses and rose water, then topped with pine nuts and raisins. Served in a glass with crushed ice, it’s one of the region’s most popular drinks during the holy month. Iftar hosts can easily make their own jallab with store-bought jallab syrup, water, pine nuts and raisins. You’ll find the drink at nearly every iftar offering in restaurants around the country. The National’s Saeed Saeed, senior editor for Arts&Life, says: “It leaves a really nice aroma in your mouth after each sip. It’s almost like it gives your mouth a burst of perfume. It’s perfume for your mouth.”
This is a popular drink throughout the year and a must-have beverage on all iftar tables. This refreshing yogurt drink is packed with vitamin C, calcium and good bacteria. It also helps the body stay cool in the sweltering summer months. Emirati Buthaina Al Marzui, co-owner of No.FiftySeven Boutique Cafe in Abu Dhabi, says, “I would usually have laban late at night, during Suhoor. I don’t drink it, rather we soak it in Rgag (Arabic bread) and eat it this way.” Laila Rihawi, public relations manager at The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, says, “I love laban, especially with a bit of mint and a pinch of salt. It’s very cool and refreshing.”
Karkadeh is hibiscus tea (also known as roselle) and it elicits heart-warming memories for many during Ramadan. It can be served hot or cold, though cold karkadeh is preferred with an iftar meal. Bonus: hibiscus flowers contain anthocyanins, compounds believed to lower blood pressure. Emirati baker Bader Najeeb Al Awadhi says: “It’s a great drink. My grandmother picks the flowers from her garden and turns it into a natural and refreshing red drink full of vitamins.”
You’ll find this popular Ramadan beverage on iftar tables around the region. It’s made with sheets of apricot paste that have been soaked in water for hours (often overnight). It can also be made with rolled apricot fruit leather, cut into small pieces and soaked in water. This sweet drink, served chilled, is loaded with nutrients. Apricots are rich in antioxidants and provide a healthy dose of vitamins A and C, potassium and fibre. Emirati Buthaina Al Marzui, co-owner of No.FiftySeven Boutique Cafe in Abu Dhabi, says: “Qamar el-deen is a drink that reminds me of my mother. She’s forever convincing the whole family to have some during iftar. During iftar, we have pitchers of orange juice, qamar el-deen, Vimto and laban.”
This sweet-and-sour chilled drink is made with tamarind and is a popular beverage during Ramadan. You’ll find it at most iftars at restaurants around the country. The taste is a Ramadan favourite. Laila Rihawi, public relations manager at The St Regis Abu Dhabi, says: “My aunt and uncle here in Abu Dhabi always have it on the table. It’s just another one of those beverages that you have to have around during Ramadan.”
Mango, almond and honey smoothie
400ml skim milk
½ cup low-fat natural yogurt
2 Tbsp almond flour
1 Tbsp Manuka honey
Peel and chop mango and place in a blender with skim milk, yoghurt, almond flour, honey and a few ice cubes.
Blend until smooth. Divide between 2 glasses.
• Recipe provided by The Coffee Club, from James Bradbury, the global culinary director at Minor Food Group. The Coffee Club has three locations in the UAE: Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi, The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and Al Wasl Vita Mall in Dubai.
Updated: June 23, 2015 04:00 AM