The Lucknow Tribune Team
Bridget White-Kumar was born and brought up in a well known Anglo-Indian family in Kolar Gold Fields, a small mining town in the erstwhile Mysore State now known as Karnataka in South India.Kolar Gold Fields or K.GF as everyone knows, had a large and predominant British and Anglo-Indian population. Her life too was influenced to a great extent by British colonial culture.
In her own words Bridget tells The Lucknow Tribune that her food habits are typical Anglo-Indian.Breakfast was normally a bowl of oats porridge, toast with butter, jam and eggs. Sundays saw sausages, bacon or ham on the breakfast table. Lunch was a typical Anglo-Indian meal and consisted of steamed rice, beef curry with vegetables, pepper water or dhal curry, and a vegetable foogath or side dish. Dinner was always bread or dinner rolls with a dry meat dish. It was an unwritten rule that no one ate rice for dinner. We normally had either beef or mutton every day, fish invariably on Wednesdays and Fridays and Pork or Chicken or Fowl on Sundays.
My mum was en exceptional cook and even the most ordinary dishes cooked by her tasted delicious. She was very versatile and imaginative when it came to cooking. She would improvise and turn out the most delicious curries and side dishes with whatever ingredients were on hand. Every dish she prepared was delicious even if it was just basic rice and meat curry that was cooked every day. Mummy had a procedure for everything. The onions had to be thinly sliced and the green chillies and coriander leaves chopped finely. Even the tomatoes for the curry were scalded first and the skin removed, then chopped into bits and strained through a sieve so that only the pulp was used and the seeds and skin thrown away!
While everyday lunch was considered simple, lunch on Saturdays and Sundays was special. Saturday lunch was invariably yellow coconut rice, mince ball curry or bad word curry as the word â€˜ballâ€™ was considered rude or a slang and was served with Devil Chutney. My mind still recalls and relishes the taste of the mince ball curry and coconut rice that my mum prepared on Saturdays for us. On Saturdays we had only half-day school so we were home by 12.30 pm, ravenously hungry and assailed by the delicious aroma of coconut rice and the tasty mince ball curry even before we reached our gate.The mince for the ball curry, had to be just right, so the meat either beef or mutton was brought home fresh from the butcher shop. It was cut into pieces, washed and then minced at home and formed into even sized balls. Then it was dropped into the boiling curry, simmered till the mince balls were cooked and the gravy reached the right consistency.
The yellow coconut rice was always prepared with freshly squeezed coconut milk, a few whole spices, bay leaf and butter. This delightful rice preparation formed the perfect mild subtle base of our Saturday Special Anglo-Indian Meal.
As a child I would always try and help my mum to chop vegetables and onions, mince the meat or help her stir the delicious curries that she cooked for us. I would be the first person to help my mum churn the batter and cut the fruit for the Christmas cakes and puddings and help to roll out and form the Kul Kuls and other delicacies at Christmas time.In a way, my mum greatly influenced my passion for cooking and encouraged me to do things myself. My favourite past time was to cut out recipes from old magazines and paste them in my scrap book. My hobby was to try out the old recipes from my mumâ€™s handwritten recipe books.
Some of the old colonial dishes with their quaint names such as the Railway Meat Curry, Meat Glassey, Devil Curry and the Dak Bungalow Roast had at special fascination for me and I was keen to keep these dishes alive.Hundred of yearsAnglo-Indian cuisine evolved over many hundred years as a result of reinventing and reinterpreting the quintessentially western cuisine by assimilating and amalgamating ingredients and cooking techniques from all over the Indian sub-continent. Thus a completely new contemporary cuisine came into existence making it truly â€œAngloâ€ and â€œIndianâ€ in nature, which was neither too bland nor too spicy, but with a distinct flavour of its own. It became a direct reflection of the multi-cultural and hybrid heritage of the new colonial population.
However over a period of time, Anglo-Indian cooking became more Indian than British and more regional based. Local ingredients and flavours of a particular region were incorporated in the dishes while the basic ingredients remained the same through out the country. Coconut based curries were popular in Anglo-Indian dishes in the south while mustard oil and fresh water fish were popular ingredients in Anglo-Indian dishes of Calcutta and West Bengal.A strong Muslim or Mughalai influence seeped into Anglo-Indian dishes cooked in Lucknow and parts of North of India.It is the extremely unusual blend of tastes that makes this cuisine so unique. Many of the dishes have rhyming alliterative names like Doldol, kalkal, Ding- Ding and Posthole. The very nomenclature of the dishes is unique and original, and synonymous only to the Anglo-Indian community. It is a true reflection of both worlds where the Indian oriented curry is given as much importance as the English roasts and bakes.
However, I’m sad to say that due to the influence of various factors, colonial Anglo-Indian cuisine, which is a gourmet’s delight, is slowly getting extinct. In these days of fast food and instant mixes, many people do not find the time to cook even a simple meal everyday leave alone the old traditional dishes of our forefathers. Many of the old traditional colonial dishes are not prepared in Anglo-Indian homes these days as the recipes for many of them have died with the older generation who cooked with intuition and memory rather than from a written recipe.
In a world fast turning into a Global Village, with many Anglo-Indians migrating out of India and the younger generation not showing interest in traditional food, I felt it had become imperative for me to preserve for posterity those very authentic tastes and flavours and record for future generations the unique heritage of the pioneers of this cuisine.
With this in mind I have published six recipe books exclusively on Anglo-Indian cuisine.This personal collection of recipes is compiled with the intention of reviving the old tastes of the colonial era, and thereby preserving the old Anglo-Indian flavours and tastes.This is my small way of helping to preserve the culinary culture and heritage of the Anglo-Indian Community.Moreover these old traditional recipes are not found in any other typical Indian cookery book, except for those books published by me which are .
Anglo-Indian Cuisine – A Legacy of Flavours from the Past
A Collection of Anglo-Indian Roasts, Casseroles and Bakes
The Anglo-Indian Festive Hamper.
The Anglo-Indian Snack Box
For more information about our delicious Anglo-Indian food, and more about my Anglo-Indian Recipe Books at:
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