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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

An Introduction to Anglo-Indian Cuisine

Colonial Cuisine or Anglo-Indian Cuisine is a fusion of both Western and Indian Cuisine and is perhaps the earliest example of FUSION FOOD, where the normally bland Western cuisine is given a dash of exotic Indian flavour. This cuisine evolved over many years. As a result of reinventing and reinterpreting the old quintessentially western cuisine by assimilating and amalgamating ingredients and cooking techniques from all over the Indian sub-continent, a completely new contemporary cuisine came into existence making it truly “Anglo” and “Indian” in nature, which was neither too bland nor too spicy, but with a distinctive flavour of its own, comfortably straddling both cultures. It became a direct reflection of the multi-cultural and hybrid heritage of the new Colonial population. It is the only cuisine, in the world which includes with much élan in its “Carte du jour”, the very Indian Oriented Curry on the one hand and the very European Traditional Bakes and Roasts on the other.

Colonial or Anglo-Indian Cuisine has taken the best of both European and Indian Cuisine and blends the best of both worlds. Many of the dishes have rhyming alliterative names like Dodol, kalkal, Ding-Ding, Pish-Pash, etc. The very nomenclature of the dishes is unique and original and synonymous only to the Anglo-Indian Community.

Due to the influences of various factors, Anglo-Indian Cuisine, which is a gourmet’s delight, is slowly getting extinct. In these days of fast foods and instant mixes, many people do not find the time to cook even a simple meal everyday, leave alone the old traditional dishes while many others do not know how to prepare them. In a world fast turning into a Global Village, with many migrating away from India and the younger generation not showing interest in the old traditional food, it has therefore become imperative to preserve those very authentic tastes and flavours and record for future generations the unique heritage of the pioneers of this cuisine. This Collection of Recipes is therefore compiled with the intention of reviving and preserving the old tastes of the Colonial Era, thereby preserving its culinary heritage. Many of the dishes featured here were prepared by the older generation and are now almost forgotten.
The repertoire is rich and vast, ranging from the outright European Cutlets, Croquettes, Pasties, Roasts, etc, to mouth watering curries, rice dishes, Pilafs, cakes, sweets, Christmas treats, etc., picking up plenty of hybrids along the way. A few home brewed wines are also included to round off the extensive flavours and tastes. The very names of old time favorite dishes such as Grandma’s Country Captain Chicken, Railway Mutton Curry, Madras Pork Curry. Dak Bungalow Curry, Steam Roller Chicken, etc, will surely evoke nostalgic memories for many.

The recipes are simple and easy to follow and only easily available ingredients have been suggested. Through trial and error I have arrived at the exact amounts of ingredients etc. to be used, besides substituting some of the ingredients to suit present day availability and health consciousness. While the basic recipe can be made use of, chicken, or vegetables can be substituted for meat and vice versa.

The easy-to-follow directions make cooking these old, popular, sumptuous dishes simple, enjoyable and problem-free. I am confident that anyone who follows these recipes will turn out dishes that will truly be a gastronomic delight besides having a rendezvous with History.

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