Our shops are open and we are processing online, telephone and email orders as normal

BURTON, Richard F.

Four autograph Indian recipes:

for "Gurathee" (possibly a type of snuff), "Melted butter", "Sherbet", "Indian Brandy - mixture".

[c.1850] Stock Code: 127294
Reserve Ask us a question

A brief but fascinating list of Indian recipes attesting to Burton's absorption of the culture of the subcontinent. Burton's father was a colonel in the Indian Army and in 1842 finally "acquiesced to his son's requests and purchased a commission for him in the Bombay army. Burton arrived in India on 28 October 1842 and was posted to the 18th regiment of Bombay infantry. In 1844 his regiment was sent to the newly annexed Sind, where Burton spent much of his Indian service. Besides infantry duties, Burton served as a staff interpreter, surveyor, and intelligence officer during his Indian years. His phenomenal gift for mastering languages, apparent from childhood, flowered in India as he periodically exhibited proficiency in the East India Company's language examinations. Besides languages, Burton also mastered cultures with such proficiency as to enable him to pass among native peoples in disguise" (ODNB). Unwell with cholera Burton was granted sick leave and returned to England in 1849.


1 Spoon Tobacco

2 Sns gur also known as jaggery, a type of cane sugar

1/8 Sn Preserve raspberry best; strawberry

1/8 gulkhand Conserve of Roses

Mix well and bury for month"

"Gurathee" may be a type of snuff or a form of "gudakhu", a paste-like tobacco preparation that is rubbed over the teeth and gums; it is used widely in Odisha and other eastern states of India. "Gudakhu" certainly contains similar ingredients to Burton's "gurathee": tobacco, molasses or jaggery, lime, red soil and water.

"Melted butter

Slowly melt in clean pot and gently add cream till it is thickening; flour etc. fit only for the workhouse"

Melted butter is associated with both Hindu and Mahayana Buddhist ritual practices. In Hinduism melted butter is the drink of the deity Agni.


2 bottles boiling water

Peel of 1 lime

2 teaspoons Cream tartar

Sugar à discretion"

Sherbet was popular in India as a cooling and medicinal drink and utilised the fruit of many different trees and plants. George Playfair's The Taleef Shereef, or Indian Materia Medica of 1833 described one variation on Burton's recipe as alleviating "depression of spirits from heat, in mania or disordered imagination; increases appetite and evacuates bile".

"Indian Brandy - mixture

Journeys Fever Anaemia Hospitals

4 spoonfulls cognac

8 water 1 egg Sugar Cinnamon Cloves"

Spiced brandy was widely recommended for medicinal use, particularly to "create warmth" and "increase the action of the heart... and the circulation of the blood", as described by Frederick Corbyn - "among the most important scientists in colonial India" (Pratik Chakrabarti, Western Science in Modern India, 2004, p. 35) - in his A Treatise on the Epidemic Cholera (Calcutta, 1832), who goes on to describe its effect on one particular patient:"brandy and water in equal quantities were given, as hot as the patient could drink it; and improved with plenty of spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamums sic, and ginger... This was rousing the system indeed!"

Confused? Read our glossary


Folio (225 x 140 mm), one page, later identification in ink at head "given me by Richard Burton". With stamped manilla envelope (dated 15 Feb. 1922) addressed to the London booksellers P. J. and A. E. Dobell. Housed in a custom made black cloth lid-top box.


Central horizontal crease where folded, other light creasing. In very good condition.


With the exception of framed items*, Peter Harrington offers free delivery on all UK orders of rare books, maps and prints placed through this website. Delivery to USA and the rest of the world is similarly free for orders over £200.

View Full Delivery Details



Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.

Email: mail@peterharrington.co.uk

Tel: +44 (0)20 7591 0220

ABA Antiquarian Bookseller Association ILAB International League of Antiquarian Booksellers LAPADA The Association of Art and Anatique Dealers PBFA Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association

Our Guarantee Page

Ask us a question


Contact us with details of the book you are interested in or selling and we will contact you

Sell Old Books Help me find a book