Much before fusion food’s popularity, Anglo-Indian food easefully combined the flavours of both British and Indian cuisines. Anglo-Indian dishes like mulligatawny soup (which takes the name from Tamil words) and vindaloo brought the best of two culinary worlds together. Realising that many such dishes with an English and Indian influence have been forgotten over the years, Bridget White Kumar turned into a cookbook author to preserve the recipes.
“I was a banker by profession and took voluntary retirement in the year 2000. It was when my daughter was going to live in England that I first decided to write a recipe book with curries and quick fry dishes that she could make. I took out my mother’s old recipe books to go through and found that many dishes were forgotten. I decided to work on the recipes, with five trials for each dish, and they became my passion,” Bengaluru-based Bridget recollects.
The Anglo-Indian cuisine (relating to people with mixed British and Indian ancestry), which Bridget says sees a judicious use of spices and is very lightly flavoured like comfort food, has had the regional cuisines’ influence leading to many recipes being lost, she notes. “A typical Anglo-Indian meal includes a curry made with meat and vegetables (like a cauliflower and meat curry), and a side dish of stir-fried vegetables. The seasoning in Anglo-Indian curries and dishes is, however, different from other Indian cuisines,” she points out.
Armed with a manuscript filled with 500 lost recipes, Bridget remembers approaching several publishers, who said “they were unaware of the community’s existence”, she recalls. That was when she got together with a printer at her church to self-publish a total of seven cookbooks on Anglo-Indian food — which include vegetarian recipes, egg recipes, and other traditional recipes made in the homes of the Anglo-Indian community. The recipes collected from her aunts and other family members came alive through the cookbooks, says Bridget, who is also a food consultant for restaurants and hotels.
The food historian, who was in Chennai as a visiting chef for an ongoing restaurant pop-up named Ministry of Chutneys at the Radisson Blu Hotel GRT Chennai, presented some of her favourites from the Anglo-Indian cuisine — grandma’s chicken country captain (chicken curry), coconut yellow rice, pork pot roast and the classic bread pudding, among others.
“Chennai has a very large Anglo-Indian community. Use of coconut in curries and curry leaves in dishes came to Anglo-Indian food as an influence of the South,” Bridget notes. Thanks to the buzz created through social media, the cuisine is being revived by people again, she remarks.
Simple Coconut Pancakes
Flour: 1 cup
Beaten eggs: 2
Sugar: 2 tbsp
Vanilla essence: ½ tsp
Salt: ½ tsp
Baking powder: ¼ tsp
Milk: 1 cup
Grated coconut: ½ cup
- Mix all the ingredients together into a thin batter without any lumps.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan. When hot, wipe all over with a piece of cloth dipped in oil.
- Pour a ladle of batter and with a swirling motion shake the pan so that the entire pan is covered.
- Cook on both sides and remove. Place a spoon of grated coconut in the middle of the pancake. Serve hot.
Chicken In Red Wine Marinade
Chicken: 1 kg cut into medium size pieces
Cumin powder: 1 tsp
Dry red chillies: 3
Ginger garlic paste: 1 tsp
Tomatoes: 3 chopped
Onions: 2 chopped fine
Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
Pepper: 1 tsp
Whole pepper corns: ½ tsp
Dry red wine or homemade wine: ¾ to 1 cup
Salt: To taste
- Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients and spices for about an hour.
- Transfer the contents into a pan and simmer on low heat till the chicken is tender and the gravy is thick.
- Just before serving, add 2 tsp of butter and mix well.
- Serve with breads or lightly flavoured rice.