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Curry-Making [Made Complicated] PDF Print E-mail
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Curry-Making [Made Complicated]

Editor's Note: I added the extension in the title because that's exactly what this long-winded, poorly- organized, and overly-complicated demonstration is.  But it's also funny, in a British sort of way.  Curry was all the rage in England post-Raj, and many Brits thought that they could spread it to the States.  But the culture in the former colonies had no ties to India, so it took a long time for Indian cuisine to become an ethnic favorite.  And curries haven't really caught on in the States.  The credit for this piece of food history trivia is: As Demonstrated by Colonel Kenny-Herbert and published in the Cookery Annual of 1895 by The American Kitchen Magazine, Volume 5. The Home Science Publishing Co., Boston, Massachusetts, 1896.

Officers by John Burke, 1879
Portrait of British officers and Amir Yakub Khan. John Burke, 1879

I HAVE been asked, ladies and gentlemen, to exemplify to you practically this evening my system of making curries. Now I need scarcely tell you that, having served for over thirty years in India, and at the acknowledged headquarters of this branch of cookery—Madras—I have had some little experience on this subject. Then, as I have for many years taken deep interest in the cook's art generally, I have paid greater attention, perhaps, to the practical side of the work than most of my compatriots in the land of India, who, while excellent judges, no doubt, of what a curry should be on the table, never put their hands to one in the stewpan in their lives. Even in India there are curries and curries, more of them bad, indeed, than good. Everything depends upon the education of the cook.

The native preparations in the majority of cases could scarcely be eaten by civilized Europeans. They are apt to be too greasy, too hot, and too strongly impregnated with garlic. Good curries, from our standpoint, are the result of a blend between European and Asiatic cookery, and whenever you get a specially nice one depend upon it the credit is more due to the mistress of the house than to the cook. I propose to show you in the first place the ordinary moist Madras curry, then a Malay or Ceylon curry, and if I have time, a dry Madras curry. We will not discuss the question of powders and pastes, for most people can choose for themselves, many good sorts being nowadays procurable without trouble in London.

Now I hope that you will not think my system of curry-making is too troublesome. It may seem a little elaborate to some of you, but if you note the gradual sequence of the different stages in the process you will find that it is not a very intricate task after all, while if you practice it once or twice you will, I am sure, find it easy. Nothing, after all, can be done without trouble, and I feel sure that no practical worker present would shirk a little extra pains in order to secure success—the dearest prize to all cooks who have their business at heart.

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