May 14, 2011

Sharbat Rivas - Rhubarb Sherbet

شربت Sharbat is a popular sweet drink made from fruits or vegetables and is served over ice. شربت ریواس Sharbat-e rivas (rhubarb sherbet) may not be as widely known or as popular as sharbat-e limoo however it's equally refreshing and visually beautiful with its stunning pink color!  Rhubarb's season is very short and each year I only spot them a few times in the farm market. I always buy rhubarb stalks as soon as I see them, knowing I may not find them anywhere for another year. Now, I see bundles of them where I live. Last year, I wrote about the delicious rhubarb savory dish Khoresh Rivas (Persian Rhubarb Stew).

 Rhubarb sherbet has a well-balanced sweet and tangy taste. However, it all depends on each person's tastes and palate. Personally, I like a sherbet slightly more on the tangy side than sweet.

Sherbets were a common summer drink in our home and my mother always knew how to make the best sherbet without a written recipe. In fact, all her cooking was done that way. Until one hot summer afternoon when my father called to say he was on his way home and was bringing along with him a prominent elderly family friend and a couple of his acquaintances. Bringing guests to our home without any prior invitation was not an unusual practice. From the early hours of the morning until the late hours of the nights, friends, neighbors, and family members would drop by and pay a visit and my parents were very comfortable and relaxed with that arrangement. On that day, my mother headed into the kitchen, filled up the kettle with water to brew some loose leaf tea, refilled the ghandan (sugar-cube container), washed some peaches, plums, and cherries, and then decided to first serve some ice cold sharbat-e limoo due to the hot weather. She poured some fresh lemon juice into a large glass pitcher, added some water and sugar as she would normally do, and stirred them together hurriedly. She tasted the drink but it didn't taste right, she poured in more lemon juice, one or two cups, perhaps. She quickly tasted the sharbat and felt it needed to be sweeter, she added a couple scoops of sugar, stirred, and tasted, it wasn't the right consistency. She diluted it with more water. Now it was too watery and she squirted some fresh lemon juice. In that moment of panic, my mother couldn't quite remember the right amount of each ingredient needed for this recipe and kept on adding and mixing lemon juice, sugar, and water until she was interrupted by the sound of the doorbell. This became the story she would tell us for years to come, how on that day she lost her touch for whatever reason and ended up with several gallons of sharbat that just tasted funny!

Madaram (My Mother)

Sharbat Rivas - Rhubarb Sherbet


2 pounds rhubarb, washed, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1-2 lemons
1 tablespoon rose water *optional

  1. Place the rhubarb chunks into a large pot and pour in 3-4 cups of water to cover the rhubarbs. Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring occasionally, and cook till rhubarb is completely soft about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and drain the rhubarb in a fine-mesh sieve, pressing down on the pulps.
  3. Pour the juice back into the pot, add sugar and bring to a gentle boil over medium-low heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer until the rhubarb syrup thickens a bit.
  4. Add a tablespoon of rose water for the added aroma in the last ten minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool before pouring the syrup into glass bottles and refrigerate.
  6. Combine a cup of rhubarb syrup with a cup of ice, 3 cups of water, and lemon juice, mix well, taste and adjust to your liking. Serve chilled.



  1. Your Mother was so pretty!

    I'm going to try this next week if I can find the

  2. Sounds very refreshing. I've tried the lemon version and its awesome, especially on a hot day.

  3. Azita jan, your beautiful story brought back so many memories of my Mother and Grandmother in the blistering hot summer days.

    We used to make sharbat-e-limoo with the little keylimes that grow in the gulf regions, and sometimes used honey and instead of sugar. Occasionally, we crushed in some fresh mint.

    I love your recipe for sharbat-e-rivaas! Can't wait to try it! Thank you for sharing :)

    Best wishes,

  4. What a wonderful, refreshing drink! Your mom is gorgeous!!

  5. What a fantastic recipe. Rhubarb season here lasts several months, and in the end I get sick of crumbles and pies, so this drink will be a very nice change. I will send the recipe to my mum too, rhubarb in her garden is in full bloom.

    The picture of your mother is precious.

  6. This shatbat sounds so refreshing, just the perfect summer drink to quench one''s thirst. Love it, I am also thinking that we might have gotten the word sherbet from sharbat.

  7. This looks so refreshing, I must try it. Rhubarb is in high season around here. Some friends had it in their garden when I visited last weekend, and I was thinking I wish I knew more ways to use it.

  8. Gorgeous post, wonderful story. Just ran into your blog and noticed how much I have missed by not knowing about it. You have so many wonderful recipes of unique Persian yummies that I couldn't find in any cookbook. Thanks for sharing them and sharing your beautiful stories.:-)

  9. Visda, thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind comments!

  10. Found your blog via Oyster Food and Culture. This drink sounds wonderful and perfect for the rhubarb I have to use up. What stunning photo of your mother, beautiful.

  11. azita joon, your mothers picture reminded me of my grand mother's. there is a special beauty hidden in photos like this which no cosmetic can creaté it.

    maybe sweet memories and love. i enjoyed it.
    i am sure you are used to getting so many compliments about your work but truly your blog is unique. i always wondered how i could find authentic recipes of iranian dishes and here i am!!
    not only the recipes but the text you add to your posts makes them even more tasty. though you write in English but there is this sort of sweetness which makes an iranian reader feel at home.
    good luck and many best wishes.

  12. Somayeh jan, thanks so much for your kind comments. Your sweet words have truly touched my heart. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

    Best wishes,

  13. Beautiful photo of your mother, and what an amusing story. This cool drink looks like the perfect Memorial Day weekend refresher. You've inspired me to pick up some rhubarb, if I can find it.

  14. That looks very nice! I came here because my dentist told me that my surname, Rivas, means rhubarb in Persian and I wanted to check my facts. I find this strangely exciting.

  15. Thank you for the delicious recipe! I've done it today and am thrilled. :-)

    Best regards from Germany - Monika

  16. Azita, would you know how to make Morabbeh Rivas?
    Please, because I really want to know as your Shebet e Rivas was amazing!

    Best wishes,

    1. Amay, thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the recipe. I'll post the jam recipe in the near future.

  17. Hi Azita,

    I used the pulps to make jam. Just add some sugar (to your tasting) and a bit of rosewater or orange blossom and voilà! This way, there will be no waste.