A glass of this flower’s juice does not just look pretty but tastes delicious too

Most of us are familiar with the idea of the Indian rose or gulab being prominently featured in desserts. Even the addition of gulkhand to sweet paan has been in practice for many decades. But, how often do we take note of the other edible flowers around us. The edible flowers add a different dimension to a dish and can appeal to a mature palate.

We do have some quintessentially Indian edible flowers that have been a part of our cuisine for centuries.

The deep purple banana flower, the dainty white moringa blossoms, the sweet-scented jasmine, all form the core ingredients for dishes that are commonly made in homes here in India.

Not very long ago, at her dinner party, a friend gifted me a healthy hibiscus plant , a beautifully packaged sugar hibiscus and a recipe for a hibiscus cocktail and a beverage.

My hibiscus plant since then has grown quite vigorously. So, the time had come to try making the “Sorrel Beverage”.

Sorrel is another name for the Hibiscus. It wasn’t easy to pluck the flowers and subject them to a hot-water-dunking. I felt bad, but I consoled myself by choosing only the oldest and ‘most ripe’ blossoms .

Maybe it's because the hibiscus for me represents beauty and happiness. It also has medicinal properties and is used for treating various ailments from heart and nerve diseases, tummy disorders, colds, lowering blood pressure and so on. I love this recipe. It's so aromatic with the addition of cloves, cinnamon, ginger and orange. The water that is infused with all of these ingredients turns an ethereal shade of translucent pink.

A shot of rum is suggested for those folks who like a more sprightly flavour.

A cold glass of this Sorrel Beverage is delicious. It can be accentuated with the juice of an orange too.

SORREL BEVERAGE

Two cups Sorrel petals, 1/4 inch crushed ginger, 2 cloves, a small bit of cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, 1 tsp of orange peel (grated), honey or sugar to taste, and four cups of boiling water.

METHOD

Cut off the hard portion at the base of the stock, remove the stamen. Wash the sorrel petals in cold water.

Place in a large bowl, made of glass or steel and add the ginger,cloves,cinnamon and orange peel.

Add the boiling water and let steep for 10 to 12 hours. Keep covered.

Strain the pretty pink liquid and add the honey or sugar.

Taste. Refrigerate and serve it well chilled. At this stage you may try adding other flavours.

I added a combination of pink and red hibiscus flowers, maybe if we use only red the liquid will be a darker shade.

Many thanks to my lovely hibiscus plant for adding cheer to my day and for the wealth of information that I have gathered, not to mention a lip smacking ‘healthy’ drink.

Read more at Shanthini’s website, www.pinklemon tree.org