By: Rogia al-Shafee
KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - The dates soft drink ‘sharboat’ has been part of the Eid Aladha (Qurban Bairam, the second religious festival of Islam) menu for centuries now.
It was first invented by the Nubian communities of the extreme north and as Sudanese tended to intermingle due to improving transport, it has now become a favorite drink during the Eid festivities all over the country.
The sharboat is processed mainly from dates in which Sudan is the World’s eighth producer, mainly grown in the Northern and Nahr Alneel states of the country’s North and to a lesser degree in North Darfur in the West and in Khartoum.
In a review of the importance of this drink on the Sudanese food table during the Eid festivity (began this year on July 31 and lasting for four days), Hajja Sa’adiyya Mohammad Bashir of Omdurman City told Sudanow that, in addition to the Eid occasion, the Sharboat drink is also presented during wedding and circumcision celebrations.
But on the Eid occasion, the sharboat is complementary to the Eid sacrificial sheep slaughtered early morning of the Eid day.
Two days before the Eid, housewives soak dates thoroughly in a water trough after the dates have been thoroughly washed to remove dust and other hanging impurities.
Then the next day spices are added to the dates to give flavor. The concoction thus obtained is then stirred into liquid form and then it is left for moderate fermentation after which it is presented on the Eid day, following heavy meat meals.
This fermentation is obtained by the addition of beer ferment or any cider.
The spices added to the dates may include cinnamon, ginger, cumin, fenugreek and other local herbs.
In addition to its pleasant taste, the sharboat helps digest fats, remove heart burns and possible stomachache that occur from eating much meat.
The lamb meat is consumed in the form of steaks or soup. Some Sudanese prefer to take the lamb liver raw in moderate quantities.
An important addition to these Eid meat meals are lemons, onions and groundnut butter.
Families usually like to give their neighbors handouts of this sharboat as tokens of love.
Hajja Sa’adiyya has said that with the improving ways of living, Sudanese families now tend to add guava, grapes, Pepsi, hibiscus and other products to the date sharboat to give a more pleasant taste.
To earn money, some poor women process the sharboat and sell it to possible buyers.
Some food processors also produce some of it to be sold with their other products.
According to Hajja Sa’adiyya the housewife has to make sure the different components of the sharboat are made in suitable proportions in order for the drink to come out pleasant and savory.
Nutrition expert Nazik Mohammad Ahmed Fadl has described the sharboat drink as having a high nutritional and therapeutic value.
It contains a big quantity of vitamins and other nutritional elements inherent in the dates.
The dates also contain calcium, iron, phosphorus and potassium that enhance the body’s health and give the body more energy. In addition, they guard the body against diseases.
The shrboat removes indigestion, moderates constipation and diarrhea. It breaks fats and thus helps with good digestion.
The dates’ high content of fibers also helps with good digestion and removes constipation.
On some religious reservations raised against the sharboat because of its content of some spirit due to fermentation, Sheikh, Dr. Mustafa Hasabu of Islamic Shari’a law said if the dates are cooked briefly without the addition of alcohol content, there is no problem in that.
But if the beer yeasts are added and the drink becomes intoxicating, here it becomes haram (sinful).
Dr. Hasabu advised housewives to make sure the sharboat is not fermented too much or with yeast.
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