One of my favourite natural drinks is Sobolo. A refreshing popular drink in Ghana made from the dried red calyces (sepals) flower of the hibiscus plant. The drink is easy to prepare and tasks like tangy berry. On the streets you will mainly find Hausa women selling small bottles from 2 cedis. It is a common drink at events, parties and other celebrations. Sometimes you will be lucky to see Sobolo on the menu at restaurants and chop bars.
HIBISCUS – Originated in Africa and grows throughout the seasons as a perennial flowering plant, commonly called Roselle and belongs to the family Malvaceae. There are over 300 species – common being Hibiscus sabdariffa Linne. Hibiscus is cultivated for flowers, leaves, stems, seeds and roots. Hibiscus flowers and seed oils are widely used in food, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical formulations and has medicinal value.
There are several names for hibiscus
The Burkinabes, Senegalese, and Ivorians call it Bissap.
Zobo or Zoborodo – Hausa
Wonjo – Gambia
Dabileni – Mali
Foléré – Cameroon
Sorrel – Caribbean.
The flowers are sun dried for up to 3-5 days depending on the temperature. (Can be oven or hydrated). They are then crushed or blended to different sizes and sold at markets. (2 cups is about 10 cedis)
HOW I PREPARE AUTHENTIC SOBOLO
3 cups Hibiscus flower (dried)
2 tsp clove
2 tsp star anise
1 chopped pineapple with peel
1 sliced orange with peel
1 scotch bonnet pepper (optional)
The quantity of ingredients used depends on how spicy or sweet preferred. I don’t always stick to this measurement. Other spices (eg prekese or chilli) can be added, but its good to experiment to a acquired taste.
Add all ingredients to one large pot with water, boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain then leave to cool and refrigerate. I prefer my Sobolo gingery and with natural sweetners (fruit).
Cool refreshing Sobolo is ready.
BENEFITS – The whole plant of hibiscus, including the flower, stem, leaves, roots and seeds, has beneficial properties. Hibiscus consists of natural pigments, rich in vitamins and antioxidants.
I tend to make Sobolo at least once a month and refrigerate in bottles. Depending on my mood I drink hot or cold.
bless Sister E