Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Road To Vindaloo

The Queen Mother

Two summers ago, intrigued by something I read in a magazine, I purchased The Road to Vindaloo: Curry Cooks and Curry Books, the latest title in the remarkable series of history/cookery books published by Prospect Books in London, the small specialist publishing house founded by Alan and Jane Davidson. The press release noted that: 

"Authors David Burnett and Helen Saberi trace the rise of curry from its first awkward, but welcomed appearance in England to its current status as one of the most popular foods in Britain.  The book is artful enough to hide the deep scholarship that has gone into the research, and even a casual reader easily sees the development.   

The authors have organized ten chapters on the rise of curry, each reflecting the social modes, often trade currents, as the English discovered their passion for curry.  The result is a peek into history that only food history offers - it is history writ small, without declarations of war, one that reflects the modes and mores of people who lived, breathed, and oh yes, ate."

A British merchant's home during the Raj

From National Highway 15, India (connects Kandia (Gujurat) with Pathankot (Punjab))

This highly appealing book, which is copiously illustrated and contains history, culinary literature and recipes, charts in part the relation of the British royal family (including, notably, Queen Victoria, King George V and the late Queen Mother, widow of George VI and mother of Queen Elizabeth II), with curry.

Here is a recipe she enjoyed that looks delicious and easy, followed by the authors' note:

Balmoral Curried Eggs

2 hard-boiled eggs per person
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 oz. butter
A dash paprika
1 large onion
1 apple
1 tablespoon sultanas
1 tablespoon (Escoffier) chutney
½ lb. patna rice
1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
½ gill cream (US measurement = ½ pint)
Juice of ½ lemon
1 pint chicken stock
1 tablespoon grated coconut
2 tablespoons flour

Peel and chop the onion, core and chop the apple. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onion and braise gently to a golden colour.  Add the flour and half the curry powder and stir well.  Add the apple, the remaining curry powder, chutney, Worcester sauce and paprika.  Pour in the hot stock and mix well, lastly adding the sultanas and coconut and bring to the boil.  Cook for 20 minutes.  Strain and add the cream and lemon juice.  Cover the eggs with the sauce.

Allow to cool and garnish with mustard and cress.

Boil rice in salted water and serve with curry.

Authors' note: 
"Like her father in law (HRH George V), the late Queen Mother also had very firm ideas about food.   Although an enthusiastic angler, she apparently disliked smoked salmon sandwiches (“My least favourite”), once unfortunately served to her by Prince Charles as a special tea-time treat. Her cook, Mrs. McKee, who was Swedish, gives the Queen Mother’s Shooting Lunch, which included Curried Eggs, in her Royal Cookery Book (1964)."

Balmoral castle

HRH George VI and Queen Elizabeth 

 A Mughlai egg curry

Patna rice

Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon 
August 4, 1900 -- March 30, 2002



  1. what is escoffier chutney?
    Send reply to

  2. I've replied to you by email. Curtis