Assorted sherbets, once sold as “refreshing” in summer and “warming” in winter all across İstanbul, will soon hit the shelves for sale. Colorful sherbets prepared using recipes from the palace archives will be marketed by the restaurant Konyalı Lokantaları in March.
Ages-old sherbets that are both delicious and beneficial to the health will be offered to consumers, varying with the seasons. Specially designed glass bottles will be filled with rose, cardamom and lemon and palace sherbets, with pilgrim’s sherbets, cranberry sherbets, tamarind sherbets, blueberry sherbets and others to be sold depending on the season.
Since its establishment, Konyalı Lokantaları has been working to revive traditional flavors. Konyalı Lokantaları Executive Board Chairman Mehmet Eren Doğanbey notes that they have long been planning to engage in the retailing of Ottoman sherbets, and that a recent increase in popular interest has urged them to act. “As the health-related risks of carbonated drinks are brought to the agenda, consumers start to search for alternative drinks that are both delicious and healthy. And we hope to meet this demand,” he explained. Sherbets will be produced at the production facilities of the restaurant, located in Seyrantepe.
The Ages Old Tastes and Arts exhibition, which is currently on display in Sultanahmet specifically for the holy month of Ramadan, has been offering a glimpse of forgotten tastes to visitors for two years now, run by the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality. Konyalı Lokantaları has a stand at the exhibition from which they sell 15 different types of sherbet. The most popular is the Ottoman palace sherbet, containing ginger, rosehip, raspberry, pomegranate, rose juice, clove, cinnamon and mulberry. There are hundreds of types of sherbets, and the Ottomans played a major role in promoting them to vast regions.
There are two traditional methods for preparing sherbets. According to one of these methods, the juice of the fruit to be used is boiled with sugar and left to cool. When prepared in this way, sherbets are more durable, and honey, rose petals, fruits, spices, dried fruits or a mixture of these ingredients can be added later.
These delicious, colorful and aromatic sherbets are also known to have beneficial effects for some health problems. Here is a taste of the health benefits of sherbet: Tamarind and peach flower sherbet is good for elimination. The sweet balm sherbet gives you strength, while locust bean sherbet is known to boost blood cell production. The currant sherbet is good for thoracic diseases, while almond sherbet helps you digest food more easily. In addition, the oxymel sherbet is savory, the poppy sherbet soothes your stomach and the linden sherbet is good for preventing perspiration.
In the Ottoman era, visitors to the palace would be offered sherbet after the birth of the child of a sultan. On the third day following the birth, sultans would send sherbets to the grand vizier. A specific variety known as puerperal sherbet, which contains sugar, clove and cinnamon, would be offered to people who visited the mother and child after the birth.
Palace visitors would be offered sherbets of many kinds in gold, silver or crystal cups. Today, sherbets tend to be popular during Ramadan, or on special occasions such as wedding ceremonies in some parts of the country.
Sherbet in Evliya Çelebi’s ‘Seyahatname’
According to the 17th-century “Seyahatname” (Book of Travels) of Evliya Çelebi: “Addict’s sherbets, fışfış sherbets, imam sherbets, pilgrim’s sherbets with cinnamon and sherbets with clove and rose of the Üsküdar dock are famous. Yet the nightingale sherbet of the Armenians in Tahtakale is exhilarating. The Arnavut Kasım sherbet of Unkapanı is delicious and hot, and it makes one lose one’s mind. So when a person falters and cannot walk straightaway, he is said to have drunk the sherbet in November.”