“Mango juice, Rs30 a glass; mango juice, Rs30 a glass...” One can hear someone going on and on in the lane behind the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine.
On closer inspection one notices a recording being played on a megaphone, which is attracting many customers who are being served by a young boy. He says that the recording is in his ustad’s (master’s) voice, who has wandered off somewhere leaving him behind to guard the fort.
Mangoes are in season and hence a favourite fruit but when corrected that he is selling milkshake and not juice as it is not easy to juice pulpy fruits, the boy says that his ustad has added more water than milk to the liquidiser while making the drink. Surprisingly even after overhearing this, the customers still want the drink. There is a queue forming around the cart.
“It is too hot. It feels like someone has switched on the air-conditioning inside our body after drinking the juice,” says one customer.
“Milkshake,” I correct. “Mango juice, Baji,” the customer insists.
Nearby, one encounters another cart selling plum sherbet. That is another pulpy fruit. The man makes the juice with a manual juicer with levers used usually to juice oranges, lemons and lime to crush the plums as he places a glass mug under it for collecting the juice.
Watermelons, or tarbooz as they are called in Urdu, is another favourite for making sherbet in the summers. “The fruit comprises 92 per cent water. We only have to place watermelon pieces in a big pot and crush them to add a little sugar to make it sweeter. And to make it cooler, we add ice,” says the sherbet seller with his cart by the seaside at Seaview.
Meanwhile, the lemonade sellers were everywhere. “Lemonade sells well all summer. Just like the other sherbets, we also sell a glass for Rs30 and are able to make a respectable income selling the sherbet,” says one lemonade seller.
“The only problem is that now when we need lemons and limes the most to make lemonade, the lemons are mostly out of season and the limes that are being sold at the Sabzi Mandi [vegetable market] are very small in size unlike the ones you see in winter,” he adds.
“Since one loses a lot of valuable nutrients through perspiration in the hot weather, a truly refreshing glass of lemonade will have sugar as well as a pinch of pink rock salt to help replenish and re-balance electrolytes,” says the seller, sounding like a nutritionist.
Another very refreshing sherbet has to be the falsa sherbet but unlike the homemade variety where you wash the berries with water and leave them in a jug of warm water to be mashed by hand and then strained before adding sugar, the man selling the sherbet by the roadside in Saddar was using a liquidiser in which the pits were also going in the machine. “Who’s got the time for all that hard work people do at home?” says the seller.
Meanwhile, the neat and clean sattu sherbet cart is a sight for sore eyes. The man selling the famous sherbet, said to have originated from Punjab, is wearing a clean apron and his stainless steel pot is also shinning with sparkling clean glasses piled up on one side.
“Sattu sherbet is the most wholesome sherbet of all,” says the seller. “We offer two types of sattu sherbet, one made out of roasted barley and the other from gram flour. And we don’t add sugar to the sherbet. We add gur, or jaggery, making it even healthier.”
Originally published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2019