Zobo, the popular refreshing drink made out of steeping mauve coloured dried leaves in warm water. The English, or do I say the Carribean name for Zobo is Sorrel. I never liked Zobo drink to be honest. It wasn’t something my mother made at home often (thankfully), so most of my zobo drinking memories were from drinking it at a friend or family members house or at parties where it was served to kids and young adults. It used to amaze me how people gulped the thing down with such relish. I could barely tolerate it. To not come across as a snotty teenager I used to hold my breath, gulp it down with such speed and you couldn’t pay me to ask for seconds. The smell was offensive, the taste was offensive, ugh!!
At some point, it was the craze everywhere. No party was complete without the deep mauve coloured drink. It used to amaze me why this was so because any spillage and your party dress was almost ruined. Zobo used to rank up there with Kunu, which I still don’t like but now that I have been making zobo myself a few times now and finally perfecting the recipe which I am writing now, I just may go ahead and try out Kunu. This is my chic Zobo drink, with a little kick and lots of ooomph.
You will need
2 cups of the zobo leaves
6 cups of water
1 orange – juice and rind
1/2 a lemon – juice and rind
2 tablespoons of whole cloves – called konafuru
1 tablespoon of dried chilli flakes – substitute with dried shombo or cayenne pepper (dry pepper)
1 cinnamon stick – substitute with 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon powder
2 tablespoons of organic honey
2 stumps of fresh ginger
Sugar syrup to finish – optional
1. Measure two cups of the zobo leaves, pour into a colander and give it a good rinse with cold water. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: the leaves tend to hold a lot of dust and particles so ensure you rinse it properly. Preferrable under a running tap, reducing the essence of the leaves rinsing out. i.e. don’t sit it in a bowl and rinse. This will cause wastage.
2. Measure the cloves and grind into a powder
3. Prep the other ingredients i.e slice the orange, extract the juice and cut up the pulp and rind into quarters. Do the same for the lemon. As for the ginger, I used two stumps showed in the picture below. Peel the skin and pound in a mortar and pestle or roughly blend.
4. In a pot, add the zobo leaves and 6 cups of cold water. Set the heat to low and add all the ingredients from Step 3, including the cinnamon stick. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: i know some recipes state that boil water and pour over the leaves, like making tea. I have found that the taste of the drink is more intense when you let the leaves steep slowly with the ingredients. The end result is also a very rich and thick juice. Intense heat also destroys the flavour, hence low heat. This will take time, but the results are so worth it.
5. When the mixture starts to boil, take it off the heat. remember my earlier comment about intense heat? I gave it a taste and I loved it, but I wanted to give it a little extra kick. I added more cloves (about half a teaspoon) and a little ginger (a small bit) which gave it more oomph, but I still wanted that kick. I thought to myself, what, what, what, then it hit me. Aaaaaah, dried chilli flakes. 1 tablespoon and BOOM!!! I got what I wanted. One sip and you can taste all the aromatic spices permeating through your taste buds and on swallowing you feel a tingling sensation from the chilli. Perfect.
I thought 1 tablespoon was a tad much at first, and that was probably because the drink was still hot. When it cooled down, it was much better. You can use less if you wish. Transfer the mixture into a plastic bowl, add the honey and leave to cool down. Ordinarily you would sieve out the leaves, the orange, lemon and cinnamon stick once it cools. No, I did not do that, I left it to steep further for 2 days. Day 1 on my kitchen counter and Day 2 in the fridge.
Each time I tasted it, it was much better. By day 2 it wasn’t improving anymore, so I strained out the leaves and the other ingredients. What you will be left with is a really thick drink. Rather than dilute it with just water, transfer the sieved out contents to a bowl and add hot water. Use the resultant solution to dilute the drink, that way you get as much as you can out of the leaves, after which you can discard.
Leave to chill in the fridge, or hasten the process by adding ice cubes and serve garnished with slices of Orange, Lemon and Lime. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: don’t add sugar syrup until you are ready to serve. I find that sugar alters the taste after some time in the fridge.
To serve in a glass, add ice cubes
Add a slice of lemon to the edge of the glass. Cheers!!!!
With my big batch of Zobo chilling in the fridge, I am going to give it a twist by making cocktails out of it. A zobo Martini, which I term a Zobotini, a Zobo Margarita – get out the tequila. You could also make a Sangria with it, to make your own signature cocktail. Get creative with it. I will also be making a dessert out of this. Ice cream machine to the rescue.See you at the next post. Cheers!!