If there’s one Indian staple which you’ll find in most British larders, it’s the pickle. Not just any pickle, but jars of Branston Pickles – a more sweet, savoury condiment that usually accompanies a salad and doubles as a sandwich spread. First made in 1922 in the village of Branston near Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire by Crosse & Blackwell, Branston Pickle may well be one of India’s most long-lasting gifts to the British.
Much like Bengal’s date and tomato chutney and Rajasthan’s meetha-nimbu chutney, the Branston Pickle is more sweet-savoury in taste than spicy. Made in a thick dark brown and sticky sauce (the recipe of which hasn’t been changed since 1922, according to Branston Pickle’s website), full of miniature diced vegetables and fruits which include carrots, rutabaga, onions, cauliflower, marrows, gherkins, chopped dates, apples, tomato paste and marinated in vinegar, corn starch and sugar, it is designed to pack a punch to sandwiches which it’s used liberally in.
Branston Pickle is usually served as a part of the traditional British Ploughman’s lunch which consists of bread and cheese, a salad, eggs and cold meat. The pickle is also the key ingredient in the classic British cheese and pickle sandwich. A combination which sounds terrible at best. Selling more than 17 million jars a year across England, Branston Pickle is now a common household condiment found in almost every kitchen in Britain.
There’s another Indian creation which can be found in most Indian spice shops and in many every household kitchens in Britain, and this one is a true desi export. Bangalore Bolst’s Curry Powder in varying levels of spice is so well-flavoured, even seasoned Indian cooks have been known to cook with it.
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Founded in 1932, this family-owned entreprise started exporting its famous spiced curry powder to the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Canada, United States from 1946. Often seen as a solution to spice up the otherwise bland European food scene, has met with great success. It’s a fabulous mixture of coriander, cumin, black mustard seeds, dried red chillies, black pepper, turmeric, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves.
While the British may not have been pleased to be shown out of India, they can always thanks us for that great Indian party tradition of the “back gift” – in the form of Branston’s Pickle and Bolst’s Curry Powder.
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