Refreshing and creamy, sobia is the favorite drink of the Egyptians during the sacred Ramadan celebrations. And it is easy to understand why. This delicious sweet drink made from rice and coconut milk is consumed without moderation.
What is sobia?
Sobia is a traditional Egyptian drink made from rice, milk, coconut milk and sugar. Flavored with vanilla, it is served very fresh, with crushed ice.
Halfway between a drink and a dessert, sobia is a recipe that is rich in flavors and very tasty. Its slightly thick texture and sweet taste give it a very comforting side. In Egypt, children love it.
Sobia during Ramadan
In Egyptian culture, sobia is a party drink. It is typically consumed during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, although it is still possible to find it throughout the year in most grocery stores.
When it is time to break the fast according to the Ramadan tradition, families gather around a real feast, where delicious dishes and pastries alike are served. Sobia is then one of the central elements of the table. Its freshness is all the more appreciated when the religious celebration takes place during the intense heat of the summer season.
For the duration of the sacred month, sobia is sold in plastic bottles by street vendors, on stands, stalls and in juice bars. It is also common to see the famous drink offered in a plastic bag, closed with a rubber band. To open it, people just punch a small hole in the bottom of the bag.
Vendors also like to add food coloring to it to give it an even more festive touch. It is therefore not uncommon to come across bottles of yellow, blue or pink sobia.
If many people prefer to make it at home, it can also be bought in the form of a ready-to-use powder, which can be mixed with water.
How to make sobia
In Egypt, sobia recipes are very much shared among families, which explains why the preparation process varies slightly from one household to another.
The most authentic method is to boil the rice in water until it has completely evaporated. Thus, after adding the other ingredients and switching to the blender and then to the cheesecloth, you obtain a creamy texture as desired thanks to the overcooking of the rice.
In other recipes, the rice grains are not cooked, but reduced to a very fine powder using a grinder. The powder is then dissolved in water and the mixture is left to soak for several hours. Finally, all the elements are mixed with a blender and then filtered in the same way. This method gives a lighter and less thick sobia.
Variants of sobia around the world
In Saudi Arabia, there is also a drink called sobia that is consumed during the Ramadan period. The Saudi sobia, however, has little in common with the Egyptian version.
Indeed, this fermented drink is prepared with a mixture of wheat flour and malt, sugar and spices, which are diluted in water and left to ferment naturally at room temperature. The result is a refreshing drink with a very low alcohol content. It is renowned for its nutritional properties, which makes it even more prized during Ramadan.
On the other hand, Mexican Horchata is quite close to the Egyptian sobia, although entirely vegan. This agua fresca is made from rice and almonds, sweetened and flavored with cinnamon or cardamom. The texture of horchata is therefore lighter than sobia, but just as tasty.
- ½ cup raw short grain rice
- 2 cups water
- 3 cups cold whole milk
- ½ cup caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 2 cups coconut milk
- Crushed ice
- Wash the rice under cold water, then soak it in cold water for 2 hours.
- Add 2 cups of water into a saucepan and boil the drained rice over low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the water is completely absorbed.
- Let the rice cool completely then add the cold milk.
- Add coconut milk, vanilla, and sugar.
- Pour mixture into a blender and mix until obtaining a completely smooth consistency.
- Strain the mixture through cheesecloth and serve fresh with crushed ice.