Bandrek is a traditional Sundanese ginger drink, usually served on a cold night or during the rainy season. The drink is made of a mix of ginger, herbs and spices. During the Colonial period, when spices were highly valued, bandrek was considered as a premium drink. Spices were such a sought-after commodity they could be traded for valuables such as gold and jewelry. When the trading shifted to mainly coffee and tea, the value of spices declined, and so did bandrek’s popularity.
Today, bandrek is not regarded as a luxury drink anymore. Fortunately, people are already accustomed to it and love it — especially the Sundanese, living in the colder highlands. Though no longer prestigious, the decline in its perceived value has made it more affordable for ordinary people.
Bandrek contains lots of ginger, which is very well known for its warming properties. Because of the other spices contained in the drink, bandrek is also said to have some other benefits, such as preventing cold, bloating, rheumatism, clogged blood vessels and even acne prevention.
During the pandemic, ginger (especially red ginger) has been highly sought after in Indonesia. People believe it can help increase immunity and fight the virus. When I served this drink to some friends who came over to my place, they happily commented that the drink is just right for the current pandemic situation.
Bandrek has a strong ginger taste, with a melange of aromatic spices. The palm sugar makes the drink look beautifully brown and adds a little sweetness. Some people find ginger spicy, so adjusting the amount of the ginger according to individual preference is recommended. For the best result, all the ingredients should be boiled slowly over a low fire.
An Evolving Flavour Profile
As with many other traditional food and beverages, bandrek is also evolving! People are experimenting by adding more ingredients to it. Don’t be surprised if you find bandrek with additional young coconut or even durian in the menu. The most common trend is to add condensed milk to the drink. Then people will refer to it as bandrek susu or milk bandrek. Modernization has also enabled people to create an instant granulated bandrek mix. But nothing beats the fresh original bandrek made from scratch!Print
Bandrek is a traditional Sundanese herbal ginger drink, which contains spices such as cinnamon and cloves. It has warming properties along with other health benefits.
- 100 gr fresh ginger, wash and dry thoroughly
- 50 gr palm sugar
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 4 cloves
- 5 cm cinnamon
- 2 pandan leaves, cut in a few pieces
- A pinch of salt
- 0.5 lt water
- Broil the ginger over the stove until slightly charred and leave to cool.
- When the ginger cools, scrape the skin and bruise.
- Put the ginger in a cooking pot, then add all the other ingredients (palm sugar, granulated sugar, cloves, cinnamon, pandan leaves, salt and water).
- Cook over a low fire until the drink boils.
- Continue cooking for another 5 minutes after it boils, to let it steep.
- Sieve the drink and serve immediately while it’s still hot.
- Always use old ginger to make bandrek. Young ginger has a different taste that is not suitable for this drink.
Keywords: Healthy, Vegan, Common ingredients, quick and easy