Last Sunday was a lazy day walking around Salford University Campus. I used to go there a long, long time ago. Ok, I'm not that old. It's been around 26 years but walking around the campus and park brought back many happy memories for me.
When I was a student, I had never visited Salford's museum and art gallery, which is within Salford University's main campus. My sister mentioned that within the museum there is a Victorian street complete with shops and artefacts from the Victorian era called Lark Hill Place.
I made a bee-line for John Hamer, Chemist and Druggist, and tried to photograph the herbal based potions and tinctures through the shop window. Not easy but a bottle of Indian Brandee caught my eye.
And no I haven't misspelt Brandee but what was it and why was it Indian?
After some internet research, I discovered that Indian brandee is an old remedy for digestive upsets, including bloating, wind, heartburn and constipation. There's even some information about it on the NHS website.
Maybe it looks and tastes a bit like brandy even though it didn't actually contain any brandy?
From various sources I found out that Indian Brandee contained:
- Tincture of Capsicum
- Tincture of Ginger
- Tincture of Rhubarb
So perhaps it was Indian due to the spice content then?
Ginger is warming, calms muscle spasm, supports liver functioning and helps to prevent nausea. Coriander and cardamom like ginger are warming and help prevent bloating and spasms. The addition of chilli acts as a stimulant, it boosts metabolism, promotes blood flow and supports weak digestion.
When the British were in India they probably used Indian herbal remedies made from spices like ginger, cardamom, coriander for digestive complaints. It makes sense that on returning to Britain some of these remedies would have been brought back along with recipes like kedgeree (based on Indian kitcherie) and Worcestershire sauce (main ingredient is tamarind).
You can still buy Indian Brandee on the net, though the formulation may be somewhat different from the original available in Victorian times.
I decided to have a go at making my own homemade version of Indian Brandee. In the Victorian chemist I saw a bottle of 'Syrup of Figs'.
The laxative qualities of figs where well known in the Victorian era. This inspired me to include figs in my version to promote movement within the digestive system. Figs will also add sweetness, flavour and colour to my Indian Brandee
Mussarrat's Indian Brandee
1 cup of water
1 inch cube fresh ginger (grated)
4-5 cardamom pods (split)
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 small green chilli (I would have used red chilli but I didn't have any)
6 dried figs (I could also have used dates)
- I placed all ingredients in a pan and covered with 1 cup of water
- After bringing everything to boil, I simmered the mixture for around 25 minutes.
- The figs plumped up and absorbed a lot of the water
- I then switched the heat off, covered my pan and left everything to infuse overnight
- The next day, using a sieve, I separated the syrup from the figs, ginger, cardamom, chilli and coriander
- I blended a couple of the cooked figs with the syrup mixture and then passed this mixture through a fine tea strainer to give me a thick syrup.
Here's my Brandee in the small jar. I mixed a couple of tablespoons with half a glass of warm water.
It definitely has a medicinal taste and a leaves a spicy kick in my throat.
Even after an hour of drinking this, I still have a nice, warm feeling in my tummy ... may be that's why it's called Brandee.
As you can see, I now have a small jar of Indian Brandee. This should keep for a week in the fridge, will keep you posted how I get on.