Friday, 9 July 2010

19th century English chicken curry

About the food:

Of all the recipes I have accumulated so far, this recipe is extremely special. Indian curries had always been popular in foreign lands, particularly in Britain. This dish gives the taste of what a 19th century curry in Britain was.

I got this recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s ‘Ultimate curry Bible’ .She always wanted to know how a 19th Century British curry would have tasted, and had gone in depths to do a research. She found that the most authentic curry was prepared at that time in London’s Oriental Club by Chef Richard Terry, which he claims to have learned from the ‘Native cooks’. The club catered for the officers from the East India Company, who highly approved the curry.

The recipe of the curry powder was found in the book ‘Indian Curries’ by Chef Richard Terry written in 1861.Terry used butter to cook, and the recipe was for mutton, which was cooked in an oven for 3 hrs. I have used chicken here, and have used vegetable oil in place of butter.

The curry powder could be prepared in advance and if stored in an airtight container, will keep for months. The Curry paste would keep for weeks, you have to store it in a refrigerator.

This recipe gives a reflection of us in the past, so dive in to have a taste of the past!

Preparation time: 11/2 hr

Cooking time: 1 hr


1 kg chicken pieces, skinless

Vegetable oil or butter

4 medium onions, finely chopped

2 tbsp ginger paste

1 tbsp garlic paste

19th Century British Curry Powder: (makes 7 tbsp)

2 tbsp ground turmeric

5 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp cayenne powder

1 ½ tsp ground black pepper

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground cardamom seeds

½ tsp ground cloves

19th Century British Curry Paste: (makes 350ml)

4 tbsp coriander seeds

2 tbsp chana dal or yellow split peas

1 tbsp black peppercorns

1 ½ tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp brown mustard seeds

1 tbsp ground turmeric

1 tbsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

120ml (half cup) cider vinegar

6 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil


1. Curry powder:

Mix all the spices together and store in a an airtight container.

2. Curry paste:

Dry roast coriander, cumin, chana dal and peppercorns in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and grind them to a powder. Put it in a bowl and add turmeric, cayenne powder, salt, sugar and vinegar. Stir to mix. Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Stir fry the spices for about 5 mins, cool, store in a container and refridgerate.

3. Heat oil in a pan. Fry the onions until they are lightly golden. Add ginger and garlic and cook for 1 min. add 2 tbsp curry powder and 2 tbsp curry paste and continue cooking for 3-4 mins. Add the chicken pieces, and mix well. Cook by turning the pieces over a medium to low flame until oil separates out. Add a pinch of salt and 3 cups of water, cover and simmer until the chicken pieces are cooked.

4. Serve hot with Indian Paratha or basmati rice.

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