Recipes Unabashedly non-vegetarian in their preference for food, the Anglo Indian community shares some of its favourite dishes with Rhoda Daniel
Ihave never eaten Anglo-Indian food and I was not sure what to expect. But the warm hospitality of my hosts and the wafting smell of spices put me at ease.
The table was laden with food and I was introduced to nearly 10 inviting-looking dishes that I had only heard of before. It was apparent that the Anglo-Indian household loved meat dearly. I noticed that even their vegetarian recipes contained more meat than vegetables!
I was about to sample the meat and drumstick curry, a tomato based thick red curry and the meat and snake gourd curry that had minced meat stuffed into the vegetable. These are frequently cooked, I was told. Unlike the Brinjal Bake, that is mince-stuffed brinjal, that the older members of the community remember baking, which is rare these days.
Says Nigel Galway, co-owner of Steaks and Grills, a restaurant in Coimbatore, “In a community that works hard and parties hard, food is a big part its frequent celebrations. We have adapted traditional Indian and English food.”
Indeed, some of the dishes seemed very familiar, such as the typical Anglo-Indian pepper water that is very similar to the South Indian rasam. The Anglo-Indian yellow coconut rice is also a close cousin of the thengai saadam .
There are intereting stories attached to the names of certain dishes. For example, The Captain Chicken Curry is said to be a recipe that originated from the captain of a ship that sailed in the days of the British Raj. The Railway Mutton curry was the fare served in the canteens of the Railways where many Anglo Indians worked.
These traditional recipes have been transferred from mothers to daughters to granddaughters over the years. Lauraine, an Anglo-Indian house-wife, has learnt her cooking entirely from her mother and has all the recipes filed away in her memory, she says.
Ball (Kofta) Curry made with mince balls soaked in a mild coconut based curry, Yellow Coconut Rice and the Devil’s Chutney, are standard celebratory dishes cooked for birthdays, promotions or anniversaries. I learnt Mince Cutlets would taste better with the green chutney and the meat dishes could be eaten with both rice and chappatis.
The Anglo-Indians celebrate Easter, Christmas, and New Year with much fanfare. The traditional Plum cake is baked. Raisins, dried plums, and nuts are soaked in rum for a period of time to leave a lingering flavour in your mouth.
The Biryani is also popular though unlike its popular counterpart, the Anglo Indian recipe uses beef instead of chicken. In some households, Turkey, an American Thanksgiving tradition is also followed during Christmastime where the head of the family carves the bird. Wine is an indispensable part of these celebrations and many households make their own wine at home. For the non-alcoholics, there is OT, a digestive drink made up of ginger, green chillies, and whole spices. Kul Kuls and Rose Cookies are other rare Christmas treats that were earlier prepared by this community but are now widely made by others as well.
Raisins 50 gms
Dates 50 gms
Chilli Powder 1 teaspoon
Tamarind – 1 lemon sized portion
Sugar 3-4 tablespoons
Garlic 1 pod
Onions 2 big
Salt to taste
Grind all ingredients together without adding water. Serve as a side-dish.
Brinjal 1 large
Pepper Powder 1 tsp
Turmeric 1 tsp
Salt to Taste
For the filling
Minced meat Half kg
Green Chillies 5
Cinnamon 1 stick
Sauté the onions till they turn golden brown. Grind the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and green chillies and add it to the sautéed onions. Add the minced meat along with turmeric, salt, pepper powder, mint and coriander and a little vinegar to speed the cooking process. While the meat is cooking, blanch the brinjal in hot water and cut it into two parts horizontally.
Scoop out the insides and when the meat is thoroughly cooked fill the brinjal with the mince. Dip the brinjal in beaten egg and roll it on a plate of breadcrumbs. Shallow Fry until the brinjal is brown on the outside. Serve hot.