The ruby color that lifts the spirit

For those traveling to India, particularly in the hot seasons, one of the many valid suggestions for dealing with dehydration and fatigue is undoubtedly represented by this brilliant ruby-coloured syrup. After more than 100 years Rooh Afza is still an elixir for all seasons, but in the summer it becomes one of the favorite thirst quencher.

On the streets of Old Delhi, stalls selling Rooh Afza-based drinks are an attraction for adults and children.


Rooh Afza sold with water and ice near the Jama Masjid, Old Delhi

Clearly less affordable by tourists, due to the use of unsafe water and ice, the latter will however be able to buy a bottle of syrup to carry along and mix with their own fresh water before starting the day.

The stalls offer two versions in particular: water and ice, or the popular Mohabbat ke sharbat, where the syrup is mixed with cold milk, ice and pieces of watermelon.


Mohabbat ke sharbat vendor, Old Delhi


Rooh Afza, in Persian, means "the one who exalts the spirit and uplifts the soul".

Its recipe has more than 25 ingredients including rose petals, also extracts of spinach, coriander, sandalwood, mint, lotus and two types of lilies.

Reading them, many names are also unknown to us, one wouldn't be mu attracted to taste such a mix, yet the result is definitely very pleasant and the rose is felt most of all.


The Rooh Afza factory in Old Delhi (Hamdard archive photo)


Rooh Afza was born in 1905, as a medicine, in the Old Delhi based clinic of hakeem (Muslim physician) Hafiz Abdul Majeed. Majeed, an Unani physician (an Arab and Persian tradition), who formulated this herbal preparation to treat heatstroke and dehydration. Hamdard, the name of the brand under which the Unani drugs were prepared, was later also spread by his brother Said, in Pakistan where the latter chose to move after India's independence in 1947. Abdul instead decided to stay in India where he successfully continued to grow his business which, under the name of Hamdard, also became a commercial business.

In 1971, when East Pakistan became independent Bangladesh, Said decided to gift the factory to the workers themselves.



Today Rooh Afza can be found in most grocery stores and supermarkets, as well as often for sale at street stalls.

Given that the amount of sugar present is really high, the benefits listed by its inventor are as follows:

Potassium, magnesium, sulfur and calcium protect the body from dehydration

Increases the hemoglobin content in the blood

Useful for lowering body heat in case of high fever

Prevents indigestion

Helps increase cardiac efficiency

However, since it is a very sweet drink, those with high blood sugar or diabetics should moderate the consumption.



When I return home exhausted and thirsty in the hot season, I dream of preparing a huge glass of water and Rooh Afza, to which I add the juice of two nimbus (limes), and lot of ice cubes. Usually I don't drink iced things when it's very hot, but in this case I make an exception, the ice really makes this drink enjoyable at the maximum levels and the lime definitely dampens the sweetness!



My version with nimbu, water and ice

1 comment

  • a vederlo così sembra quasi uno spritz, anzi mi hai fatto venire voglia. Sono a casa sola soletta e ora me lo preparo, purtroppo senza di te. Bacioni


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