Cookery Book Author, Culinary Historian and Independent Food Consultant and Trainer in Anglo-Indian Cuisine

July 10, 2010

Railway Lamb / Mutton Curry

Railway Lamb / Mutton Curry is a direct throw back to the days of the British Raj, when traveling by […]

Railway Lamb / Mutton Curry is a direct throw back to the days of the British Raj, when traveling by train was considered aristocratic. This very popular and slightly spicy dish was served in Railway Refreshment Rooms and on long distance trains, with Bread or Dinner Rolls. The curry was not too spicy keeping in mind the delicate palates of the British. It was also popular with the Railway staff who had to be on duty for long periods at a stretch. The vinegar or Tamarind juice used in its preparation would ensure that the curry would last for quite a few days and was an ideal accompaniment with rice as well. The recipe for this dish is sure to bring back some happy memories.

½ kg mutton or lamb cut into medium size pieces
6 peppercorns
2 big onions sliced
2 pieces cinnamon
2 cloves
2 cardamoms
8 to 10 curry leaves
4 red chilies broken into bits
1teaspoon chilly powder
1teaspoon ginger garlic paste
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons vinegar or ½ cup of tamarind juice

Wash the meat and mix it with the ginger garlic paste, salt and the chilly powder. Heat oil in a pan and fry the onions, curry leaves, red chillies and spices till golden brown. Add the meat and mix well. Fry for a few minutes. Add the vinegar / Tamarind juice and sufficient water and cook on medium heat till the meat is done. Keep frying till the gravy is thick and dark brown.

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Article written by Bridget White-Kumar
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9 years ago

Well Adi - one little trick to trick your senses would be to do a "Dungar" - when the dish is ready, put a smoldering piece of coal on a foil or in a tiny steel bowl, float it on the curry, pour a tsp of Ghee / Clarified butter on the coal, and quickly cover the pan with a tight fitting lid, with the gas turned off. After 5 minutes, remove the foil/bowl from the curry and mix the curry well and serve hot - you will get a delicious charcoal flavor in the curry. Enjoy !

Keith GW4OKT
10 years ago

Thanks Bridget....I'll have a shot at this one once I can source the ingredients!


Keith Williams (Chester,UK)

11 years ago

You will never really get the taste of the railway mutton curry & rice. The unique taste was because of the type of cooking oil only the railways used to use in those days plus the coal/wood fire of the kitchen compartment mixed with smoke from the coal-driven steam engine, all combined to give that curry a unique taste. You can imitate it but never get the that blend that gave it that unique taste. The last time I had railway curry and rice was in the First Class compartment on the route from Patna to Siliguri in 1968.

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