This year Ramadan fell in the month of August this year, and the days of fasting were hot and extremely long. By the time the call to prayer sounds, those fasting are more than ready to quench their thirst with a cold drink..

During Ramadan, refreshing drinks are a must and no Iftar table is complete without them. This year Ramadan falls in the month of August, so the days of fasting will be hot and extremely long. By
the time the call to prayer sounds those fasting will be more than ready to quench their thirst with a cold drink. Eating nutritiously is especially important and healthy drinks should be served up during Iftar and souhour to help to withstand the heat of the day and the long hours of fasting ahead.
The drink most associated with Ramadan is Amaredine. A good source of vitamins, this drink is made of dried apricots boiled in water with some sugar and a little rose water. Dried apricots are
excellent sources of potassium, vitamin A, as well as fiber, protein and vitamin C. Jellab is also at the top of the list of drinks to break the fast with, as do rose syrup and lemonade.

Everybody looks forward to these coolers and no one makes them better than Lebanon’s rural women who are known for their syrups, such as mulberry, apricot, rose and lemon, all of which are the base ingredients to making delicious beverages.

“We produce natural juice syrups, without preservatives, made by rural women all over Lebanon,” says May Traboulsi chairperson of Rural Delights Cooperative established under the patronage of YMCA Association. “If the women grow apricots in their backyard then we encourage them to make apricot syrup.”

Rural Delights Cooperative specializes in traditional Lebanese food products, including syrups, free from additives or preservatives; the name itself literally translates to ‘rural delights’ in Arabic. The
cooperative was established initially as a byproduct of a donor funded development program aimed at providing rural women in Lebanon with income opportunities. The program was established
in women owned food-processing centers, linked to Rural Delights Cooperative for marketing their productions. The syrups are made under the quality control of the HACCP and the GMP (Good
Manufacturing Practices).

May Traboulsi is not the only person supporting pure local products made by rural women. There are several other associations across the country, including Aghsan in Deirmimas, South Lebanon, established by a group of friends whose aim is to support the work of rural women. They formed Bayt el Mooneh, and the association is led by Asma Al Hourani who ensures that
the women produce quality homemade products including syrups which are sold through catering and food fairs as well as directly to the public.
So when looking to Ramadan drinks buy local and support Lebanon’s rural communities to uphold age-old syrup-making traditions … and to quench your thirst after a long day of fasting.

• 300g dried apricots or 3 sheets of paste
• 2 1/2 cups hot water
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 3 teaspoons orange blossom water
Cut apricots into small pieces, put in a bowl and
add the hot water. Leave for 2 hours or more,
stirring from time to time until dissolved. Strain
the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, then
add sugar and orange blossom water. Leave to
cool in the refrigerator and serve.

• 1 cup jellab syrup
• 5 cups water
• 5 teaspoons pine nuts
• 5 teaspoons almonds
• 5 teaspoons raisins
Pour the jellab syrup into a pitcher,
add water and stir. Serve with
crushed ice and add 1 teaspoon
pine nuts, 1 teaspoon almonds and 1
teaspoon raisins to each glass.

Rose syrup drink
• 2 cups sugar
• 2 cups rose water
• 1/2 cup lemon juice
Boil 1 cup of water with sugar until completely
dissolved. Add lemon juice and let the mixture
boil for a while. Add the rose water and keep
boiling for a few minutes. Remove from heat
and store in glass bottles. For serving, dissolve
3 tablespoons of syrup in water. Serve with ice
cubes and mint leaves.