WTo describe Anglo-Indian cuisine, âlove childâ is probably the most appropriate word. Although we know that it dates back to the British Raj, there is no definitive record of its original date.
Timeline isn’t the only elusive factor on perhaps the first Indian fusion cuisine. Unlike other cuisines like Kathiawadi, Andhra, and Kashmir, Anglo-Indian cuisine is not region specific, and anyone’s community does not influence it.
This amalgamation of Indian spices, stews and roasts is the mainstay of British cuisine. The British loved chutneys and spices that tickled the taste buds, but they added them in limited quantities to meats. There is no one or place behind the kitchen. It is mentionned to have developed in different regions of India within army canteens, railway headquarters and gymkhanas or clubs.
Anglo-Indians are those of mixed Indian and British ancestry and people of British descent born or residing in India. When colonial rule ended in 1947, Anglo-Indians either returned to the UK or stayed.
Due to dispersal, there remains a very small population of Anglo-Indians and only a handful of them preserve their cultural heritage. One of them is Karen Martin from Bangalore.
She decided to quit her job a year ago, when the pandemic hit, to popularize the lesser-known cuisine. She started her cloud kitchen, âHouse of Angloâ from her home kitchen and uses her great-grandmother’s century-old recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.
âWe use ingredients that have a British influence but Masala is Indian. It cleanses your palate and comforts you. Colonial-era Indian cooks invented new dishes, which combined Indian flavors with those of Britain and Europe. Dishes like soups were seasoned with red peppers and the meat was roasted with whole spices. Anglo-Indian is an under-represented cuisine, but it has a lot to offer in terms of soups, stews and steaks, âsays Karen. The best India.
She used social media platforms to attract customers and tell the world about her new business, but engaged customers solely on the quality and taste of her food. Neither spicy nor bland, her food reaches just the perfect amount of “pizzazz.”
Deepak Menon, who has been a loyal customer, says, âMy friend had suggested Karen’s name. I have always wondered what the kitchen has to offer, its style of preparation and its taste. Goan food is the closest food I have to have to Anglo Indian food. This kitchen should have its own section in our culinary history and thanks to people like Karen for sharing the culture. Some of its mouthwatering dishes include roast, fermented jackfruit curry, and desserts.
Karen’s mother’s side has Burmese roots. His grandmother’s grandmother married a British man and settled in India. They received the title of Anglo-Indians. Meanwhile, his fatherly side has Scottish roots.
âPart of my family immigrated to England and the other half stayed here. My great-grandfather worked in the Kolar gold fields and stayed in the seat of government. The communal canteen influenced what they did at home. They lived in an Anglo-Indian colony with English cottages which exposed them to the ‘Nati‘style. It is a style where the chicken or turkey is raised naturally as opposed to a broiler chicken. They lived far from the market, so there would be less travel. In other words, it was a farm-to-table concept, âsays Karen.
His ancestors prepared food on a wood stove and roasted it over firewood for a distinct smoky taste. Simple ingredients like chilli, pepper, vinegar have been added in moderation. Ginger and garlic paste dominated their cooking. However, over the years her family made her more spicy and salty because after the score the food was only for Indians.
Yes Nati style dominated Anglo-Indian cuisine in Karnataka, mustard has become the heart of Bengal dishes. Chennai and Bengaluru highlighted the addition of coconuts.
The best time to savor Anglo-Indian cuisine, says Karen, is during Christmas, weddings and birthdays. The community cooks up iconic dishes like Railroad Mutton Curry, Bengal Shrimp Curry, Country Captain Chicken, Anglo Indian Ground Meatball Curry, Dak Bungalow and more.
Digging into ancient recipes
Caroline Hughes passed the bread pudding recipe on to her granddaughter, Alice, who revealed it to her granddaughter, Karen, on a rainy afternoon in Bengaluru. Karen was a child when she heard the story and found it strange at first.
âBread pudding has sentimental value in our family. At the time, my ancestors were afraid of wasting bread, given its importance in Britain. So they would recycle the stale bread and steam it with dried fruit and eggs. Thus was born the bread pudding in the community which has become our traditional dessert. Today, of course, we only use fresh bread or self-baked bread.
Another leftover dish is Kedgeree (Anglicized version of Khichdi). It is a rice dish containing eggs and fish. It’s infused with garlic, ginger, and turmeric. The fish (preferably a single bone) is cooked in a milk broth and garnished with bay leaves, pepper, corn, cinnamon.
âThe British usually take haddock, but we use Bhetki fish with leftover milk. The fish is crumbled into the rice and the hard-boiled eggs are added. The English loved their breakfast, so this dish was usually served in the morning, âsays Karen.
Anglo Brown Stew is made with vegetables but takes its name from Garam masala used. Once you start frying the onions and tomatoes, the masalas turn brown. The beef cubes further enhance the color and give it a smooth texture. Diamond-shaped chapati rolls embellish the stew. Another famous dish is dumpling stew stuffed with meat and flour. For vegetarians, Karen makes an okra stew in thick coconut milk.
The secret to getting the tenderness and flavor from meat dishes is to hit them aggressively, Karen explains. She also uses the old technique of marinating the meat the night before and cooking the following afternoon.
Another branded comfort food is Born Marrow Stew: âBone marrow has a lot of fat that keeps you warm. It is usually made in winter with pepper, salt and a slice of bread. I make beef marrow with carrots and lentils. The best part is that you don’t need any oil or butter. My ancestors used to do this to relieve a stuffy nose and colds. Mulligatawny soup is also handy in winter. It tastes like rasam because it contains ingredients from South India like chili peppers and pepper, âexplains Karen.
She shares her okra coconut and crÃ¨me caramel stew recipes below:
Coconut okra stew
For 2 people
Preparation. Duration: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 250 g okra (cut into bite-size pieces)
- Â½ cup thick coconut milk
- 2 cups of thin coconut milk
- 4 tablespoons of oil
- 2 medium onions (finely chopped)
- 25 g of ginger (julienned)
- 1 medium tomato (coarsely chopped)
- 2 green peppers (halved)
- 2 tablespoons of ground coriander
- Â½ tsp ground pepper
- cc of garam masala
- tsp ground turmeric
- Salt to taste
- Heat the oil in a pan and add the okra. Fry until it no longer sticks and is cooked.
- Remove them from the heat and keep them aside.
- Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions with the ginger and green pepper. SautÃ© until the onions are translucent.
- Lower the heat and add the coriander powder and turmeric. Fry until the raw smell of Masala left. Add the coarsely chopped tomato to the mixture and sautÃ©.
- Add the cooked okra to the mixture with the salt.
- Add the fine coconut milk with the pepper and the garam masala. Let the mixture come to a boil.
- Remove from the heat, add the thick milk and stir gently.
- Serve with buttered rice or toast.
Tip: Meat can also be added to the stew, which will then be a âmeat and okra stewâ.
For 6 persons
Preparation. Duration: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 min.
For the caramel
- 1 cup of sugar
- cup of water
For the pastry cream
- 2 whole eggs and 1 yolk
- 250 ml of milk
- 6 teaspoons of sugar
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Add Â½ cup of sugar and water to an open saucepan over medium heat and allow the sugar to dissolve completely. Do not stir the mixture to prevent the caramel from crystallizing. Wait for the caramel to turn a dark amber color and turn off the heat. Do not leave the caramel unattended.
- Pour the hot caramel into 150 ml (5 ounce) ramekins and be careful when spooning the mixture, as the caramel is extremely hot. Let the ramekins cool and allow the caramel to become hard and brittle.
- In an open glass bowl, add two whole eggs and a yolk with the sugar and whisk vigorously until the eggs are light yellow in color.
- To the egg mixture, add the vanilla extract and the milk and stir until no foam remains.
- Pour the egg mixture into the ramekins with the crispy caramel and place in a deep baking dish with hot water, covering half of the ramekins.
- Cover the ramekins with a piece of aluminum foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the mixture becomes firm or a stick comes out clean.
- Let the ramekins cool completely before inverting them.
- This dessert can be served warm or chilled.
You can order from House of Anglo here
Edited by Yoshita Rao