Rooh Afza: ‘110 Years of Refreshing the World’
This is the slogan that we find on the recently manufactured bottles of Rooh Afza because this year it celebrates its 110th year of production. These distinctive bottles with their golden caps (which are engraved with Rooh Afza Pakistan, Rooh Afza Hamdard), ringed shape and label bearing fruits were found adorning a stall at Gulfood 2017 (the world’s major annual food & beverage exhibition) which attracted many visitors. This of course comes as no surprise because it is exported to 27 countries, and is extremely popular in the Middle-East.
History of Rooh Afza
It is all started when in 1906, Hakim Abdul Majeed (founder of Hamdard), a herbalist doctor started a small herbal clinic/duakhana in New Delhi. In 1907, among the initial products introduced was Rooh Afza. It was the first syrup to be sold in a standard 750ml ‘pole’ bottle and the eye catching labels were especially printed from Mumbai.
Till the partition, it was jointly run by his two sons i.e. Hakim Abdul Hameed and Hakim Muhammad Said. In June 1948, Hakim Muhammad Said who had migrated to Pakistan set up Hamdard (Waqf) Laboratories and Hamdard Foundation. He brought the formulae’s of many traditional products including Rooh Afza. Of course he had to find the right extracts locally and substitute some of the ingredients to make it the same as the original. Once that was done, it began manufacturing from Pakistan too. While later on a Hamdard laboratory was set up in Dhaka in 1953, then after 1971 it is still being produced there as well.
Rooh Afzha: Rahat-e Jan
Rooh Afza captured even the imaginations of writers; the following verses by renowned Urdu poet Sa’il Dehlvi appeared not only in the advertisement but also the wrapper in the beginning:
‘If you look at its color, it enchants your heart
If you taste it, you find its flavor enlivening
In fragrance it excels other flowers
In efficacy it is quite an elixir
It’s refreshing and invigorating effect is beyond reckoning
A sharbat like Rooh Afza has never been produced, nor ever shall be’
You can even find the word ‘Rooh Afza’ in the Urdu dictionary which means ‘the one that refreshes’ or ‘the one that gives strength to the soul’.
Rooh Afza Today
Although due to the introduction of many other soft drinks, it may have lost some of its shelf appeal but without a doubt it still remains the top national drink, with a major share in the local market. It is used throughout the year, but summer time in Pakistan is specifically associated with ‘Hamdard ki Rooh Afza’. It is used in Gola Ganda, a seasonal dessert which is made of crushed ice and flavored syrups. It is also added to milk, lassi, ice cream, kulfi/falooda, yoghurt, kheer and custard.
The new TVC entitled ‘Zindagi Mubarak’ gives the message that quintessentially Rooh Afza has the same significance in our lives as that of family relations.
Ramazan & Rooh Afza
It has a special significance during the month of Ramazan, as no ifftar table is complete without a jug of ice cold Rooh Afza. That is because nothing can quench the thirst and give you an energizing boost better than this! Furthermore every restaurant, be it a five star hotel or a roadside eatery has Rooh Afza on its beverages list. The new TVC entitled ‘Ramazan Mubarak’ gives a lovely message.
Constituents of Rooh Afza
Syrups that were available before Rooh Afza were entirely either made from herbs, fruit, flowers or vegetables. What made Rooh Afza stand out was that it was made from a combination of all these ingredients making it very unique. These include:
Herbs such as borage, blue star white lily, chicory, coriander, European white lily, lotus, purslane and wine-grape raisins.
Fruits such as apple, different kinds of berries, black currant, cherry, lemon, orange, pineapple and watermelon.
Vegetables such as carrot, coriander, mint and spinach.
Flower extracts of Rose and Pandanus (better known to us as kewra) and White Sandalwood.
Benefits of Rooh Afza
Rooh Afza is not just simply a drink; that has a cooling effect which can reduce body heat and helps maintain its water balance. It is actually beneficial in case of Dehydration, Vomiting, Diarrhea and Indigestion because it has many minerals such as sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, chloride and phosphate.
How to make Rooh Afza at Home
Following is an interesting recipe of making a homemade version of Rooh Afza!
Tragacanth gum (Gond katira) – 2 tablespoon
Water – 3 cups
Sugar – 1 kg
Water – 1 liter
Kewra essence – 1 teaspoon
Afza essence – 1 teaspoon
Red food color – few drops
Soak gond katira in 3 cups of water at night, so that by morning a thick mixture is formed.
Take a pan, place 1 liter water, add sugar and cook.
When syrup thickens a bit, add the gond katira mixture along with the water and cook until it thickens.
Strain this, then add red color, kewra and Afza essence. Mix well.
Let it cool down. Then pour into a clean chilled bottle.
You can also find some nice recipes on the following Hamdard web link:
Awards Won by Rooh Afza
Hamdard is a multi-award winning company, which has brought Pakistan global recognition. It is manufacturing more than 500 herbal medicines and products today. However the jewel in its crown is definitely Rooh Afza! This is evident by the fact that the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) has been awarding the ‘Best Export’ Trophy to Rooh Afza since 1997 to date. In addition, it has also won the Consumers’ Choice Award for 5 consecutive years from the Consumer Association of Pakistan (CAP) since 2005, as well as the Brands Icon of Pakistan Award twice, and the Brand of the Year Award consecutively from 2007-13. Moreover it has certifications of ISO 9001: 2005 and 2008 and ISO 22000: 2005.
The Everlasting Rooh Afza
So in a nutshell Rooh Afza is a historical part of our culture that will always remain! And while it has already prevailed for over a hundred years, I think that without any doubt it will be there to welcome the 22nd Century too!