Nigerian Zobo drink

Hey friend! The last post was super personal and a bit heavy, so I decided to lighten the mood this time around. This is a super quick and simple recipe for what I have found to be a popular drink here on the Plateau and I’m sure Nigeria at large. Now, let me first admit that this was my second *cough cough* third time trying this recipe… “I THOUGHT YOU SAID IT WAS SIMPLE!” I promise it is, but practice makes perfect, right?

The first time: I didn’t wash my leaves or cook them. I also didn’t add any ginger which is definitely one of the most important ingredients.

The second time: I took all advice from my husband. Truthfully, I knew better than to trust him around the kitchen. I love my chocolate man and he’s amazing at many things, but cooking is not one of them. HE CAN MAKE A MEAN GOAT PEPE SOUP, THOUGH!

This last time: I looked up recipes, called a couple of the women I’ve grown to trust in the kitchen here, and didn’t use any measurement tools.

Let me give you a bit of background on Zobo before I jump into the recipe. If you know all about it and are just reading to see how badly an American girl may have botched a Nigerian delicacy–click here for the recipe. Zobo is the Hausa name of the flower used to make this drink; Hibiscus sabdariffa is the English word. They are plucked from Roselle plants, which I happen to think are beautiful.

Roselle, Thai Red
Source: https://www.southernexposure.com/products/roselle-thai-red/

“The plant’s leaves and young flowers are often used for tea, syrup, jam, and [even] candy.” In the market here, many people harvest the leaves, lay them out to dry, and sell them by the mudu. Mudu is a common means of measuring produce in the market. To find out more about it and how it compares to other measurement systems, click here. On any day in Jos, other than during complete lockdowns, you will see people in the market with wheel barrels FULL of this dried hibiscus leaf, and even more people buying it by the bag.

I had Zobo when I first moved to Nigeria. The kids in the village made it for us with a side of cookies for the Christmas program. I’ve learned that many people drink Zobo during the holidays, parties, and some special occasions.

There are endless lists of the benefits of Zobo drink, but I decided to just ask around here and see what is most often noted:

  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Lowering blood sugar
  • Clarifying skin
  • Weight loss
  • Reduces swelling
  • Kills bacteria causing worms and parasites
  • Helps with menstrual pains

I’m sure there are other benefits, but I’ll stick with these for now. I posted me and Ishaku’s last attempt at Zobo on my Instagram story, and I had a few friends who have lived in other countries, such as, India, Mexico, and Japan tell me that they make something similar there. Hibiscus seems to have an array of health benefits, so it’s no surprise that many other countries eat or drink it. Y’all ready for the recipe or should we continue deep-sea diving into the specifics of Hibiscus sabdariffa? Let’s get to it.

Things you’ll need:

  • Zobo leaves (two hands full, maybe)
  • Ginger (1/2 thumb)
  • Honey
  • Pineapple
  • An orange
  • Water

Now, I prefaced this by letting you know that I didn’t use any measuring tools, so don’t be surprised if I say, “some”, “a lil bit”, or “a bunch.” I always give the option to skip the pictures and Shakiyla-inspired commentary and flip straight to the recipe, so if that’s your thing click RECIPE

Here are my leaves. We got them in town a few days ago. They were among those living the lavish life of a wheel barrel in town.

Now, you want to toss those babies into a pot of water (enough to cover them) and let it cook on a low-med fire for about 15 minutes. Look how pretty…

While that cooks down, chop about a thumb of fresh ginger into small pieces and add it the the pot. I used a potato peeler instead of chopping them because I didn’t feel like washing another knife. Do you. Just get it in there. Now that the ginger and leaves are swimming together, let them simmer for about 15 more minutes.

Grab how ever much pineapple you want. I think I used about 1/4 of a small one. The purpose of the pineapple is natural sweetness, so if you want to balance out the kick of the ginger, I’d say add 1/2 fresh one or one whole can of chopped. Mix that with a lil’ bit of honey and some of the pineapple juice.

I blended mine until it looked a bit like “froth” and left it to stay cold in the fridge.

Once the leaves are soft and almost look gummy, it’s time to let them cool. Here’s what they looked like after boiling for about 20 minutes (I lost track of time). Leave them in the pot to cool down and go dance in the living room for a while.

Once it cools, add the pineapple mixture, give it a good stir, let it sit for a couple minutes, then strain it with your cheesecloth, t-shirt, or whatever it is you use for straining. Notice how the mixture foamed up a bit from the acidity in the pineapple. I loved it. Thanks to the hubs for straining so I can take the picture.

Just a heads up for anybody trying this for the first time, the Zobo leaves will for sure stain anything white (or lightly colored). I wanted to use this while cloth because I wanted to SHOW just how quickly it stains. It went from bright pink to deep purple. The scientist in me thinks the oxygen from the water is what changes the color but honestly, I have no clue.

It looks purple and blue because of the stains from yesterday’s batch.

That’s basically it. put it in bottles or a pitcher and store it, or serve at your very own Nigerian themed party, lol. I often see them served with a slice of orange and a straw but I’m tryna save the whales and dolphins so I only added the orange slice. I hope you enjoyed it. Comment down below where you would serve Zobo if given the chance! Be sure to take my poll before you go.

No, that’s not a lemon. I promise it’s a Nigerian orange.

Thank you for reading.

I love you.

2 Comments on “Nigerian Zobo drink

  1. Girl I love you so much. I thoroughly enjoyed reading how you made this juice. I actually have hibiscus leaves in my fridge so I’m going to give it a go once I get a pineapple. Thanks for sharing your journey. I love you to the moon my darling and I’m praying that you are doing well and enjoying married life.

    • Oooooh! Tell me how it goes, Nette. Married life is an ongoing learning experience and journey to looking like Jesus. I love you more.

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