Have you come across a chain of stores for selling just sarbhat (any cool and refreshing drink made from fruits/flower essence/syrup and had normally in summer). I came across this shop “Pattanam Ikka Kulukki Sarbhat” near Pallikaranai (in Chennai) and was surprised with the idea initially. Dint take me long to give it a try. I have had sarbhat from different shops (largely street vendors) and also at home. But was not sure if it made sense for a single recipe “business idea”. Well, I was wrong. The shop had a colourful interior with couple of tables and chairs for seating as well. A big poster detailed the benefits of basil seeds. This shop has given a twist to the local drink by adding more flavours and combo’s ranging from the lime kulukki to Boost Kulukki (which has milk in it).
Now, some history about this refreshing and naturally healthy drink. Kulukki sharbat supposedly has its origin in Kerala (Kozhikode). Some website credit a shopkeeper by name “Shaji” who made this drink famous in the area. “Kulukki means shaken in Malayalam ….yes, the Bond way. Probably they dint have a mixer or juicer those days and it made sense to shake it rather. But this actually does infuse the flavours to the right proportion especially since you are adding chili. Largely the recipe is made using lemon and ginger along with basil seeds and chilli which is the real differentiator. However, as it spread to other parts of the state, now we have several versions of the same drink. To add to it, there are these talented Kulukki-tenders (as in Bartenders), who can do all sorts of gimmicks while preparing the same. It’s a sight you can’t miss when you pass through several kulukki shops in Kochi.
“Pattinam Ikka Kulukki Sarbhat” has made a brand out of this drink and is expanding their business in various parts of state. They have several flavours and varieties of Kulukki, some juices, milkshake varieties and also serve chicken shawarma. I ordered for a Yellow Mango kulukki. The drink was served in a glass jar had a decent quantity. The chilli flavour was infused in to the drink. It was sweet, sour, spicy and tangy. The basil seeds did give it a good twist. The drink was refreshingly good. By the time I finished there were few other customers who came in as well. They seem to be doing pretty well business wise. However, I am not sure if this can be an all-season business. It might be a good drink for summer. Oh ya, Chennai has summer for 10 months right? So it does make sense. Price wise, I felt it was on the higher side.
I came back home and did some research about the recipe and thought it made sense to write this blog which gives you some details – not only about the drink but also the best version of this recipe, after all my trial and error to get that perfect taste.
Basic Kulukki Recipe (Ingredients for one glass)
Sugar (syrup form for mixing easily)
Ginger – a small piece
Salt (a pinch)
Basil seeds (Sabja) soaked in water – 2 or 3 Table spoons
Ice Cubes – many
Green chili – medium size (whole slit in the middle)
Add the syrup up to 1/4 of the glass.
Squeeze the lemon and drop the slice also into the jar.
Add the ginger, green chilli and soaked basil seeds.
Add water if necessary upto 3/4th of the glass.
Add ice cubes to fill the glass.
Cover the glass tightly by pushing it into a slightly larger steel tumbler and shake the same as much as possible in all directions. If you can shake your body along with it, it does help you to reduce some fat. The more you shake, the better the drink. Remove the tumbler and serve the drink.
Now you can replace the lemon juice with any other variant like watermelon, pineapple, grapes, pomegranate or even vegetable juice like Carrot, Beetroot or Cucumber. You can also try the combination of these. Lemon/mint can be added along with other flavours also to add some zest.
Boost Kulukki (or Coffee / Chocolate)
This version is more easy as it has just three ingredients – Sugar Syrup, Boost / Chocolate powder (2 table spoons), Milk and ice cubes. You can add some coffee decoction instead of Boost/Chocolate for the coffee kulukki.
If you happen to go to Kerala especially Kochi or Kozhikode area, don’t miss to have this lovely drink. And yes, if you are in Chennai you can always visit Pattanam Ikka or order through Swiggy/Zomato. But it makes sense to try one at home as well, especially since the ingredients are easily available and it’s very easy to prepare.
Please try and let me know your feedback !!