The British and Indians share an elaborate history of over a century. The British rule did not just affect India on a superficial level. It seeped into every facet of an average Indian’s lifestyle. Parallel to the chaotic episodes of upheavals and revolutions, during the British Raj, there also ran beautiful stories of friendship, love, admiration and practice. Many genres like language, faith, education and family, had an influence on both Indian and British lifestyles. Cooking was one of those.
Cooking practices had a mutual influence on both the cultures. Food is the central part of any community; Indian food was popular among the British. Their love for curries and chutneys led them to set up curry houses in England that exclusively served Indian food. Cookbooks were authored, describing the Indian cuisine and spices. Rich Indians opened restaurants in the London. And thus, a new cuisine surfaced known as the Anglo-Indian cuisine, the medley of the goodness of both worlds!
Anglo-Indian cuisine is one of the very first fusion cuisines witnessed by India. It is a perfect balance of the English and the Indian tastes. It is neither too bland nor too spicy and thus a perfect amalgamation. Every dish is unique and has a history to it. There is certain glamour to the Anglo Indian cuisine with its quaint names like ‘Railway Mutton curry’, ‘Devil’s pork curry’, ‘Anglo-Indian mince ball curry’, ‘Daak bungalow curry’, ‘Bengal Lancer’s Shrimp curry’ and many more.
Interestingly, Anglo-Indian food carries diverse influence from various parts of India. For instance, Anglo-Indian recipes originating from Bengal used mustard oil as their cooking medium, while recipes from down south use coconut oil. The tradition and the word of mouth, to date, have preserved these invaluable recipes. We have listed the most popular ones from an endless list.
It is perhaps one of the most popular dishes evolved out of the British India time. British loved the peppery stews but would eat them only in the form of a soup. This lead to a revolutionary invention, the mulligatawny soup. It has all the traditional south Indian ingredients like red chillies and pepper. This recipe is internationally famous, and also common among the Anglo-Indian households in India. Mulligatawny is an anglicized term for Tamil word ‘Peppery Broth’.
As the name goes, this spice powder originated in Kharagpur, West Bengal. Being one of the most British influenced states, Bengali cooks were greatly exposed to the English style of cooking. While at clubs, the Indian chefs found new ways of expelling the blandness of Lamb roast, Mutton curry and Chicken broth. Kharagpur masala came out of this practice. It is a milder version of Indian garam masala, with no black or green cardamom in it. It is till date commonly used in Bengal, to make the ‘Railway mutton curry’.
Country Captain Chicken
Back in the 17th century, the British trade ships in India were called as country ships. The captains of these ships were addressed as ‘country captains’. This chicken recipe is what the captains indulged in after a voyage. Thus, the name country captain chicken was coined. This tangy, tasty and easy to make recipe was favourite among the ship crew. The unbroken tradition is followed even to this day, and it is one of the popular dishes among the Anglo-Indian homes of Goa and Bengal.
Daak Bungalow Chicken
This well-known dish owes its name to the Daak Bungalows or the rest houses along the coastal routes. Back in those days, the keeper of the rest house made a quick curry, invariably chicken for dinner, while the officers reared at the house. This chicken recipe was passed on to their sons who would eventually take up the job. Lal Murgi curry today has its origins from the Daak Bungalow chicken recipe.
Devil’s chutney is made of red chillies. This chutney is also called Hell’s fire or Hell’s flaming chutney. It got the name mainly because of its bright red colour. Quite misleading by its appearance, this chutney is, in fact tangy, sweet and just a tad pungent. It’s a very easy recipe primarily made of Red chillies, vinegar and onions.
Snake coy stuffing curry
This curry is snake guard cut up into bite-sized rings, de-seeded, and stuffed with minced meat that’s marinated with a whole lot of Indian spices. This recipe is more Indian and uses all Indian spices. It is generally eaten along with coconut rice. The recipe finds its roots from Kerala and Karnataka.
When the colours and spice of the South Asian cuisine meet the indigenous cooking practices of the west, the outcome is quite commendable. That is reflected in the kind of love Anglo-Indian cuisine receives. We hope this feature gave you a good peek into the cuisine and awoke your willingness to explore it further.