NAWABSHAH: Once a cooling and energizing drink of traditional wrestlers, the herbal beverage Thadal is nowadays a Ramadan favorite for breaking the fast and beating the scorching heat of Pakistan’s southern Sindh province.
The modern recipe of the cooler, also known in Urdu as Mashroob-e-Mehran (the drink of Sindh), was formulated by herbalist Hakeem Muhammad Maaz in Nawabshah, a city in central Sindh, which is known for its hot desert climate.
In the 1970s, Maaz’s son Hakeem Muhammad Muneer started its mass production under the name Maaz Thadal.
The thick white syrup is prepared from herbal, almonds, cardamom, coriander, poppy seeds, refined sugar, and natural preservatives. It has no artificial colorants.
“Thadal is a product of the Indus civilization and has been here for centuries,” Maaz’s grandson, Aziz Rehman, told Arab News at his shop, Maaz Dawakhana, in Nawabshah.
“My grandfather used to prescribe this recipe to his patients, however, it was my father who took the Thadal formula to the next level and introduced the bottled Thadal in formal packaging with the brand name.”
Thadal first became a hometown success, selling in Nawabshah’s local market, but soon its taste gained fame throughout the country.
“Today it is one of the souvenirs of Sindh because of its natural ingredients and unique taste,” Rehman said, adding that the secret behind the success was the recipe, more than 50 years old, which has never been changed.
Shahzad Ahmed Khaskheli, a resident of Nawabshah, sends Thadal bottles to his family and friends in other cities of Pakistan and abroad. “It is more than a souvenir,” he said. “It is a perfect summer drink with health benefits.”
Originally a drink of the pehlwan, traditional Pakistani wrestlers, that helped regulate their body temperature, Thadal is a preferred beverage to break the fast during Ramadan. It is present on most tables in Sindh for iftar dinners that begin after sundown.
“The word Thadal comes from thandai, which means coolant,” Rehman said.
“Consumption increases in Ramadan, especially if it arrives in the summer.”
Dr. Sadia Safdar, a dentist from Karachi, said the drink had special importance across Sindh and was a must-have food item in every household.
“Thadal has remained popular among all age groups,” she added. “My 83-year-old aunt drinks Thadal even today.”