It has different names and as many drinks as I have tasted in my life, Sobolo is by far one of my favourites. If you're looking for a refreshing drink that is natural and has zero additives, you should be looking at hibiscus flowers and making this drink which you can make from the dried petals. My first taste of this beverage was under the name Bissap when a Malian university mate of mine made it. A new and exciting flavour, I loved it immediately especially the slight tartness and the colour. Many years down the line I would return to my home country, Ghana and find that Bissap, called Sobolo had become extremely popular. I would also find out that Sorrel which is made from hibiscus flowers as well or sorrel plant is drank in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean.
Here in Ghana, you can get the dried hibiscus flowers to buy at your local market and easily make Sobolo from scratch. In terms of spices or additions, this varies from ginger to black pepper or pineapple juice and it really depends on your taste buds and what you're going for. For the base ingredients though, ginger, cloves, and Selim seem to be the standard. Add some sugar to taste and this one is ready. In this recipe, a ratio of 1: 7, that is one ratio of dried hibiscus flowers to 7 portions of water, was used. If you happen to like your Sobolo more concentrated then the water ratio should be reduced. I find that when the concentration of the Sobolo is too strong, there is an unpleasant aftertaste which distracts from the overall drinking experience.
This recipe is nicely mild with subtle hints of the spices added and whereas some people like their spices to be overwhelming, I find that too excessive. For this reason, I also don't like any black pepper in my Sobolo. This recipe yields about 1.6 litres of Sobolo.
Sobolo - Hibiscus Flower Drink
- 1400 ml water
- 1 tbsp ginger cut up in smaller chunks
- 2 cloves
- 1 selim
- 200 grams dried hibiscus flowers
- Bring water to a boil and add ginger, cloves and selim and leave in for about 2 minutes
- Add the hibiscus flowers to the water with spices and boil for another 3 minutes.
- Leave the mixture to cool and then strain. Add sugar to taste.
- Fill up in bottles and seal. Leave to chill in fridge or store in the freezer if you have made a large batch.