Saturday, October 11, 2014

Summer Days - Brahmi Sherbet

My Grandfather had an Ayurvedic medicines manufacturing business. Apart from medicines, he also made restorative products like Chyawanprash, different kinds of digestive aids, gripe waters, syrups and a unique Sherbet concentrate, called Brahmi Sherbet*. Brahmi Sherbet was made from a mixture of herbs and aromatics, and the main ingredient was Brahmi herb.

On googling, I found that Brahmi is used for Alzheimer's disease, improving memory, anxiety, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), allergic conditions, irritable bowel syndrome, and as a general tonic to fight stress. People also take brahmi to treat backache, hoarseness, mental illness, epilepsy, joint pain, and sexual performance problems in both men and women. It is also sometimes used as a “water pill.”

Whenever we visited my grandparents, which was basically during every summer vacation (until I left for college), Brahmi Sherbet was offered to every visitor and guest during the summer months, the moment they would step into my grandparents' home. Brahmi Sherbet was a bright jewel emerald green in colour and had a sweet, herbally, vetiverish flavour. After dilution with water, it would become a bright jade green. The only reason why I liked playing around with it, was because it had a kaleidoscopish effect on the glass, and bright colours always fascinated me. At my grandparents', the Sherbet would be diluted with water from the drinking water hand pump, after pumping the handpump vigorously for ten minutes, to ensure really cool water. After mixing it with water, the Sherbet would be poured into tall, brass glasses. During the height of summers in Uttar Pradesh, the Sherbet would be so cool that there would be water condesation on the brass glasses, despite the water coming from a handpump and not the refridgerator!

I used to dislike it then, perhaps because the flavour was too complex for a child's palate. I would find inventive ways to avoid it and when nothing worked, I would pour it into the many plant beds that lined my grandparents' inner courtyard. I would also often do a disappearing act right at the moment Sherbet was poured for everyone and then slide in softly and clutch an empty glass at the correct moment and pretend I knew nothing of the one filled glass that was always left.

Apart from water, Brahmi Sherbet could also be mixed with cold milk. It would turn the milk into a light milky minty colour and I liked it better than mixing with water.

Last summer was brutal and we were off colas and other soft drinks. One wished for never-ending glasses of cool liquids. On one such soul-sapping day, my boyfriend demanded Roohafza. After being more than a little dismissive and a tad snooty, I finally took a doubtful sip of my boyfriend's Roohafza drink. The first sip of the sweet, herbally, floral drink suddenly reminded me of huge, cool, brass tumblers filled to the brim with Brahmi Sherbet. Funny, how the tiniest of things can bring back repressed memories. Sometimes, I wish I could go back in time and relive my life, and perhaps do things differently (read: drink the Sherbet rather than pouring in flower beds). Drinking Roohafza now, I can sometimes hear my grandmother's gravelly yet mellifluous voice ordering us to drink up the Sherbet.

* I thought Brahmi Sherbet was unique, until I googled it and saw Baba ramdev's Patanjali also manufacturing it now. No surprises there, I suppose?


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