Friday 12 November 2010


The English curry has always been somewhat divorced from the subcontinent ... does this complaint sound at all familiar?

I cannot help regretting that the people of England, who possess so many excellent dishes, some national, and others borrowed front their Gallic neighbours, should envy us poor Indians our single tolerable dish, and attempt to libel it, as they do, by giving its title to a strange, wild composition, formed by throwing a little dust from a red packet, decorated with gilt hieroglyphics, into a dish of hashed fowl, and giving to the same the brevet rank of 'curry.' Now, curry is an artfully-composed dish, depending for its excelence on its flavour, not on its power of excoriating the human tongue by a wicked deception under the form of pleasant nourishment; and to obtain this, all the ingredients, some sixteen in number, must he fresh grown and fresh ground. Happily, however, an Indian cook effects this under circumstances in which an English servant would let his master starve ; but give a native of India but a bit of level ground, or the plank of a boat, where he may make a fire, and provide him with a cooking vessel, a bit of ignited charcoal, a chicken, and a stove, and in half an hour he produces a good dinner; the chicken being denuded of its feathers after execution by a dip in scalding water, while the 'curry stuff' is ground upon the stone.— Asiatic Journal  [quoted in Chambers Edinburgh Journal, 1847].

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