City Food – “Hate Sherbet”, Somewhere in Delhi
A drink with an odd name.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The noon is white hot, and the tempting stall on the rutty pave is hawking more than one kind of cool summertime sherbet. The cloth banner behind gives two names: Mohabbat-e-Sherbet and—believe it or not—Nafrat-e-Sherbet. Mohabbat translates to love, nafrat is hate.
This has to be the first-ever sighting of Nafrat (ki Sherbet) in the city. Though Mohabbat isn’t very old either—it majorly started popping up in the market alleys only some years back, soon spreading across the entire megapolis. In Ghaziabad, a Mohabbat stall stands at the Mohan Nagar crossing. In Gurugram, at least five Mohabbats are thriving in Sadar Bazar.
A typical glass of Mohabbat consists of tarbooz juice mixed with milk, Rooh Afza syrup, and too much sugar. The vendors prepare the sherbet in advance and keep it cold with coarse chunks of ice floating in the pan. Sometimes aesthetically cut tarbooz slices are arranged along the pink tetra packs of “full-cream” Amul Gold Milk.
A true aashique, lover, of Mohabbat might
like to make a pilgrimage to its birthplace, which is Matia Mahal Bazar in Old Delhi. Very many places here have Mohabbat on sale. Most are mere carts. Others are parts of larger enterprises, such as Salim Tea House that serves chai, toast, anda-amlet, beside maintaining a dedicated counter for Mohabbat. The drink has become so popular in Matia Mahal that it is stocked by even a few of the garment shops. One sherbet shop has a billboard that lights up after the sunset, the red signage of ‘Sharbat e Mohabbat’ blinking disco-style long after midnight. It claims to have launched Mohabbat into the world, a decade ago.
Frustratingly, not one Matia Mahal Mohabbat seller this reporter accosted was able to give a convincing fact-checked story behind the sherbet’s name. “Because it is as sweet as mohabbat,” ventured one gentleman. (Hello, Nafrat is similarly sugary!)
Hawker Tribhuvan, who is selling this oddly named ‘drink of hate’, explains that while Mohabbat is made of tarbooz, Nafrat is of seb. And why is he subjecting the poor apple to such negativity? Tribhuvan silently shrugs (by the way he is so friendly and polite, total opposite of being hateful).
Anyhow if you wish to try out Nafrat, just head to … but why share nafrat’s GPS when this world is already full of it. Find out yourself!
PS: Just a few steps ahead of Nafrat stall lies young Ayan’s sherbet stall selling only Mohabbat. A verse on its banner says:
Na wafa ka zikra hoga, Na wafa ki baat hogi,
Ab mohabbat jisse bhi hogi, sherbet peene ke baad hogi
(We won’t mention fidelity, we won’t talk of fidelity,
Whoever now we shall love, we’ll love only after downing this sherbet.)