Anglo-Indian food has been around for a long time. A very long time. Ever since the first Europeans began to enter India, around the 16th century, the different cuisines have been evolving to create early examples of great fusion cuisine.
Contrary to popular belief, Anglo-Indian food is not restricted to just the amalgamation of food from England and India, but is the marriage of flavours from all points of European contact: the Dutch, the Spanish and the Portuguese.
A general trend was that the food got meatier. As Indians, we did not consume as much meat as our European counterparts. They also had a whole new range of spices and ingredients to play with. Added to this scenario was the extremely different climate conditions of the Southern half of country, which is what we’ve focused on here.
South India is where all the ports are. That is where all the ‘visitors’ first arrived seeing as, you know, commercial low-budget flights weren’t invented yet.
Here, we bring to you 5 Anglo-South Indian dishes and the stories behind their evolution.
1. Chicken Korma
This one might surprise you by its inclusion on this list: how could something so quintessentially desi as chicken korma be Anglo Indian?
Picture Courtesy: Maunika Gowardhan
It so happens that your favorite chicken curry is actually a dish that was invented for the British, and did not exist before their arrival in India! A favorite of Indians and British alike, this mildly spiced, coconut flavoured curry uses chicken as its star ingredient. Coconut, as you know, is the the main currency in south India.
2. Railway Mutton Curry
There are many stories behind this spicy mutton curry dish, some more apocryphal than others.
Picture Courtesy: Meatroot.com
One seemingly possible scenario was that when officers would travel long distances via the railways, their wives would have to pack food that would stay fresh for longer. Specific spices were used along with vinegar or tamarind juice to ensure that the dish would last for many days.
3. Pork Vindaloo
This dish came to Goa when the Portuguese arrived in India in the 15th century. The name is a version of the Portuguese carne de vinha d’alhos (meat marinated in wine-vinegar and garlic).
Picture Courtesy: Blessings From My Kitchen
Of course, due to the lack of ingredients, the dish was localised to use the resources at hand. Wine vinegar was unavailable, and that’s why vindaloo is now fermented from local palm wine. The Coorgis took this dish and ran away with it creating the mouth watering Pandi Curry.
4. Mulligatawny Soup
One of the most popular exports to Britain, this ‘soup’ literally means pepper-water (milagu thanni in tamil).
Picture Courtesy: Epicurious
What will surprise most people, especially in South India, is that this dish is essentially rasam. Of course, there are many modifications with many versions even including chicken. The base of this soup is usually chicken stock. This is very much outside the Madras version, which is where this dish originates from, and is still part of daily fare in the south.
5. Country Captain Chicken
This chicken dish was served on most British ships that sailed the seas around India’s waters. As mentioned before, Southern India’s great ports were subjected to increasing visits by the Brits. They’re welcome.
Picture Courtesy: LindySez
The heat in this dish is very easy to regulate with just a variation on the amount of green chillies used in the dish. The story behind the name of this dish is that the British trade ships were called country ships, and that their captains were called country captains.
This dish seemed to be very popular amongst captains and was always found on their table.
Thankfully, all these dishes have survived the test of time, and are relatively easy to find. Log on to your Swiggy app now, to get a blast from the past.