Foodways

Pakistani Juice Drink Packs A Sweet And Spicy Punch

A man drinks aloo pokhara, a heart-comforting prune juice in Islamabad. i i

A man drinks aloo pokhara, a heart-comforting prune juice in Islamabad. Abdul Sattar/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Abdul Sattar/NPR
A man drinks aloo pokhara, a heart-comforting prune juice in Islamabad.

A man drinks aloo pokhara, a heart-comforting prune juice in Islamabad.

Abdul Sattar/NPR

You don't often see a man cheerily quaffing from a half-pint mug on a street corner in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.

But the drink in this gentleman's hand is as innocent as a newborn kitten.

It's called aloo bukhara juice, and contains tamarind and dried plums, or prunes, if you prefer.

Summer's reaching a punishing peak here - it's 104 degrees Fahrenheit - so I assumed he was just drinking to keep cool.

But a sign on the wall behind him explains that aloo bukhara offers other benefits:

It "comforts the heart; increases the appetite; keeps your stomach in good order; boosts your iron count; subdues burning in the hands, feet or chest; protects you from jaundice, and is a panacea for any illness caused by an ailing liver."

That's pretty hard to resist so I forked out the equivalent of 20 cents, and tried a glass. I found it very sweet, with a rather overpoweringly pungent spicy bouquet — in other words, an acquired taste.

Less comforting to the heart was another sign on a nearby wall: "The holy jihad will continue until Doomsday".

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