Dried Bael fruit – 250 gms (Maredu)
Water – 2 lts
Sugar – 1 kg
Citric Acid – large pinch
To prepare Sharbat:
Roasted cumin powder – 1/4 tsp
Black salt – 1/4 tsp
Lemon Juice – as required
Ice cubes – as required
1.Wash dried Bael aka Maredu thoroughly. Soak them in 2 liters of water overnight. On soaking, the liquid turns a dark color.
2.Next day morning, boil them along with the soaked water till it reduces to half of its original quantity, approx 1 liter. Strain the liquid with a double layered cheesecloth so that no particles trickle down. Pour the strained liquid into another clean heavy bottomed vessel.
3.To this liquid, add 1 kg sugar and heat it till it turns slightly thick and sticky, approx 15 mts on low medium flame. Do not over boil it. Cool completely and store the dark brown liquid in a clean bottle.
4.If you want to preserve the syrup, add a pinch of citric acid and mix. I usually store the sweetened bael syrup without citric acid in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks.
5.To prepare Bel ka sarbath, pour 3 heaped tablespoons of the Bel syrup into a tall glass, add 1 1/2 tbsps of lemon juice and pour chilled water. Add ice cubes and serve. A variation is to add roasted cumin powder and black salt and mix well.
6.To prepare Bel Soda, pour 3 heaped tablespoons of the Bel syrup into a tall glass, add 1 1/2 tbsps of lemon juice and pour soda to the brim. Add ice cubes and serve.
Bael syrup slightly thickens on cooling.
You can preserve the syrup without adding sugar by refrigerating it for 2 to 3 weeks. Use jaggery syrup or dates syrup to sweeten Bel ka sarbath.