Anglo-Indian Cuisine I

Interact with the Anglo-Indian Project

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Muthiah and MacLure sum up Anglo-Indians and their relationship with food:

Anglo-Indians as a community are a most gregarious people and informal hospitality is very much a part of their warmth. Anyone dropping into an Anglo-Indian home will be served a drink and a snack or can be sure to be invited to sit down for a meal… [and] are at their most sociable on festive occassions or at functions connected with life-cycle rituals [which] are all marked by gatherings served with a lavish spread of food and drink (p.49).

As with many cultures around the world, food is one of the central features of Anglo-Indian character and community, alongside song, music and dance (this may explain my love of Indian food and, ahem, great dance moves – well, maybe as a 3 year old!)

As with the origins of the community, Anglo-Indian cuisine finds its roots in Portugal and Britain as well as influence from other European countries. During the early days of European settlement in India, local Indian cooks (or Khansamahs) prepared Western dishes with their own local Indian flavouring. This led to regional differences in flavour across India. In turn, the Indian cooks added rice and curry to the dishes – not traditionally associated with Western cuisine. The Indian influence on the dishes increased over time with the introduction of seasoning and spices such as cumin, red chillies, garam masala, tumeric adding distinct flavouring to traditionally bland stews, roasts and soups. Worcestershire sauce, an Anglo-Indian creation, was also used in many dishes. Unsurprisingly, the English influences on Anglo-Indian foods were the traditional roasts, sausages, pies, puddings and so on, along with afternoon tea. As European and Indian foods were mixed, dishes such as Jalfrezi (now allegedly the favourite Indian dish in the UK) and Dopiaza (double onion meat curry) among many others were created.

Something which stands out in the UK today is that we rarely, if ever, acknowledge the Anglo-Indian roots of many of our dishes. Instead, we attribute them to the broader country of origin, usually India, without giving due recognition to the true origin of the foods.

One person who is doing great work to keep Anglo-Indian cuisine alive is Bangalore-based expert Bridget White-Kumar. Her blogs on Anglo-Indian cuisine can be found here:

Bridget White-Kumar’s list of recipes is extensive and published on these blog sites and in several books. To avoid any copyright infringement I won’t copy any of them here, but I can fully recommend visiting the websites and trying out some of the recipes. I have tried some and can testify to their deliciousness. I’ll share pictures of some of the dishes in the future as I make them again.

Cover picture credit:

AIP_with web address2

Interact with the Anglo-Indian Project

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