In the 12th century Persian ten volume encyclopedia of medical sciences, Zakhireye Kharazmshahi,
Gorgani, a physician, describes many different health benefits of Persian sharbat/syrup drinks, which may include, anar (pomegranate), albalu (sour cherries), beh (quince), rivas (rhubarb), narenj (orange), ablimu (lime), ghoureh (unripe-grapes), golab (rosewater), sekanjebin (sugar-vinegar-mint), and more.
Simplest one to make, sekanjebin is made of simmered sugar, water, vinegar, and fresh mint brewed in for flavor and aroma. It is a syrup used to make as a base for one of the oldest Persian/Iranian drinks, sharbat’e sekanjabin. Summers in Iran are very hot. Instead of hot tea, guests are welcomed with ice cold sharbat, such as sharbat’e sekanjebin, topped with grated cucumbers or melons, or other sharbats mentioned earlier. Also, sekanjebin is used as a dip to be enjoyed with lettuce leaves as a snack, kahu sekanjabin. Yes, you read it right, lettuce leaves dipped in sweet-n-sour syrup!
Sharbat is Persian for sweet drinks, and sherbet in Turkish. Both derived from the Arabic word sharba/drink, which is from shariba/to drink. Also, the word is a cognate to English ‘syrup’. Historically, it was a cool effervescent or iced fruit soft drink. The meaning, spelling, and pronunciation have fractured between different countries. In English speaking countries, sherbet is the standard spelling of the frozen dessert made primarily of fruit juice, water, and sugar. The misspelled sherbert, which results from a common mispronunciation (sher-bert instead of sher-bit), appears often enough to have earned a spot in some dictionaries as a secondary spelling. But, it is still not as widely accepted as sherbet, which more closely resembles the Persian and Turkish, and words from which the English term is derived. French sorbet comes from Italian sorbetto, which in turn comes from Turkish sherbet.
A number of us Persian Food Bloggers’ decided to collaborate on a ‘Persian Picnic recipe round-up’. Please check out the picnic favored recipes that are presented for your delight at the end of this post.
I am taking kahu sekanjabin to the picnic!
Sekanjabin • سکنجبین • Vinegar-Mint Syrup
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
• 400 g/ 2 cups granulated sugar
. (or 500 g/ 1½ cups honey or adjusted depending on the honey variety, read → this)
• 180 ml/ ¾ cups distilled water
• 180 ml/ ¾ cup white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar (or mix of)
• 3 ~ 5 sprigs of fresh mint, washed and dried well 
Choices of garnish for drink
• ½ Persian cucumber per person, peeled/unpeeled, grated (scoop out seeds from other types)
• grated cantaloupe or grated firm honeydew melon
• lime or lemon slices
• sprigs of mint
For kahu sekanjambin
• 1 ~ 2 heads of Romaine lettuce
 Although this recipe is for vinegar-mint syrup, same recipe may be used for vinegar-ginger syrup, using slices of ginger instead of mint.
◊ In a medium sized saucepan, add sugar, water and place on high heat and bring to a boil.
Stirring not necessary. Lower heat to medium and simmer until liquid is clear 5+ minutes.
(If using honey, dissolve well in water first, before placing on heat. Spoon off the foams as they form. The rest of the directions are the same.)
◊ (Have the exhaust fan on as cooking vinegar does not smell good.) Add vinegar from the side and boil for 12 ~ 15 minutes longer, or until syrup just begins thickening (don’t over boil as syrup gets much thicker when it cools). Remove from heat.
◊ Add mint sprigs to the syrup and uncovered, allow the mint to brew with the syrup and completely cool. Remove the mint sprigs and if any particles from the mint are in the syrup, pour the syrup through a fine strainer into a sterilized, dry jar with a wide mouth (for easier use if the syrup got thicker than desired), and seal tightly. Kept in a cool, dark place, it will last for a very long time.
◊ To serve as a drink (sharbat شربت )
In a pitcher, first start with mixing 1/3 cup syrup with 1 cup water (at room temperature if the syrup is too thick) and dilute well. Test taste, make adjustments to the ratio (not watery) and make amount of drink as needed. Place pitcher in the refrigerator to chill.
Pour well chilled drink up to 2/3 of water-glass or goblet. Garnish with a couple scoops of grated cucumber or garnish of choice (see INGREDIENTS). Add a couple of ice-cubes if desired, and serve. Provide spoon(s) if served with grated cucumber or melon.
◊ To serve as a snack with lettuce (kahu sekanjabin کاهو سکنجبین )
Pour the syrup into a small bowl (if too thick, thin with a little water to a maple syrup consistency) and place it in the center of a large platter. Surround the bowl with Romaine lettuce leaves. Just as chips are dipped in savory dips, lettuce pieces are dipped in the sweet-n-sour syrup and enjoyed!
~ Noushe jan • نوش جان ~
Persian Food Bloggers’ ‘Persian Picnic’ Recipe Round-up
¯˜”*° • °*”˜¯