Is this Britain's earliest curry?


Blackleaf
#1
It seems the British love of curries is not a new phenomenon.

An antique cookbook from 1793 listing a recipe for curry was discovered by monks, and now budding chefs will have the chance to try the dish at home.

The book, which contains the oldest known recipe for an English curry as well as other Georgian era recipes, is to be turned into a modern day cookery book.

The unusual book was found in the archives of a Benedictine monastery and painstakingly transcribed.

Is this Britain's earliest curry? New recipe book recreates an 18th Century spicy chicken dish

Antique cookbook was discovered by monks at a monastery in Somerset
The region benefited from its links to transatlantic trade routes
The book contains a curry recipe as well as several other Georgian-era recipes
It was painstakingly transcribed by historians and will now be turned into a modern day cookbook

By Harry Pettit For Mailonline
27 March 2017

An antique cookbook from 1793 listing a recipe for curry was discovered by monks, and now budding chefs will have the chance to try the dish at home.

The book, which contains the oldest known recipe for an English curry as well as other Georgian era recipes, is to be turned into a modern day cookery book.

The unusual book was found in the archives of a Benedictine monastery and painstakingly transcribed.


An antique cookbook from 1793 listing a recipe for chicken curry (left hand page) was discovered by monks, and now budding chefs will have the chance to try the dish at home as it is to be reprinted as a modern day cookbook

Dating from the time of the slave trade, the antique tome lists the recipes using curry powder, sugar, and other spices not widely available in the UK at the time, but which passed through Bristol due to the 'slave trade triangle.'

It was discovered in the archives of Downside Abbey, Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Somerset, and used by monks to make various dishes including ‘calves head turtle fashion’ and ‘fricassee of pigs feet and ears’.

The ingredients needed to make the curry are curry powder, sugar, salt, onions, chicken, lemon rind, veal gravy and butter. The curry was served with rice and the author suggested swapping chicken for lobster, veal or rabbit.

The quantities and cooking times are vague, partly because there were no standard temperatures for cooking.

The curry recipe will be familiar to modern-day chefs due to its similarities to a fricassee – stewed meat in a white sauce – but other dishes in the book require the ingredients to be left to sit for days.

The book was written at Begbrook House, a stately home near Bristol and was later donated to the abbey by the Parsons family.

Frances Bircher, heritage officer at the abbey, said the local area benefited from its links to transatlantic trade routes.

She said: ‘We have made a huge amount of different recipes and tasted them. At the time, Bristol would have had ships that would have been part of the “triangle”.


Dating from the time of the slave trade, the antique tome lists the recipes using curry powder, sugar, and other spices not widely available in the UK at the time, but which passed through Bristol due to the 'slave trade triangle.' Pictured is a modern day version of the curry


The book (pictured) contains the oldest oldest known recipe for an English curry as well as other Georgian-era recipes


The curry recipe will be familiar to modern-day chefs due to its similarities to a fricassee – stewed meat in a white sauce – but other dishes in the book (pictured) require the ingredients to be left to sit for days

‘There is a range of ingredients - there are things you can still pick up in supermarkets today, and there is a lot of veal which seems less acceptable.

‘There’s calf head, and pigs' ears and feet. The chicken curry recipe is chicken breast and curry powder.

‘It is a bit more normal. Lots of the recipes you can make today. Some of them are a bit more extreme - the whole animal was used, it is quite an efficient way of cooking.

‘All the recipes need a bit of attention as there are no standardised cooking temperatures. A lot of the houses would have had their own cook books and if a member of the family went to visit another house and enjoyed a meal, they might bring it back in the book.’

In one recipe for Sally Lunn buns, famous in the nearby city of Bath, egg white was spread across the dough with a feather.

It was donated to the Abbey in the 19th Century, but for decades the archives of the monastery were untouched, until a mammoth project began in 2015 to document what was inside.

The monks were fascinated by the discovery of the recipe book, which will go on sale titled Downside Abbey Presents: Bristol Georgian Cookbook, and even visited a nearby Michelin restaurant to see how top chefs cooked the recipes.


The ingredients needed to make the curry are curry powder, sugar, salt, onions, chicken, lemon rind, veal gravy and butter. The curry was served with rice and the author suggested swapping chicken for lobster, veal or rabbit


The ingredient quantities and cooking times for most of the book's recipes are vague, partly because there were no standard temperatures for cooking


The book was discovered in the archives of Downside Abbey, Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Somerset (pictured), and used by monks to make various dishes

Ms Bircher said chefs at the Pony and Trap, which has held a Michelin Star since 2011, were surprised at how straightforward the recipes were.

She added: ‘I think a lot of the chefs enjoyed how simple the recipes were to make.

‘Some of them you have to leave for a few days. They are quite simple recipes, with simple ingredients. It is home cooking.’

Care was taken to keep the original 18th Century English spellings in the new edition and it will include pictures of the handwritten script.

Ms Bircher added: ‘It was an unusual find in a monastery in the heart of Somerset.’


The recipe was discovered in the archives of Downside Abbey, Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Somerset


Father Christopher Calascione of Downside Abbey with the 1793 cookbook found in the monastery's archives


The book was donated to the Abbey in the 19th Century, but for decades the archives of the monastery were untouched, until a mammoth project began in 2015 to document what was inside


Pictured are other 18th century recipes found in the book, including one for mince pies (left)


Other recipes in the book include 'calves head turtle fashion,' (pictured) and 'fricassee of pigs feet and ears'

THE CHICKEN CURRY RECIPE (IN MODERN DAY ENGLISH)

Warm an ounce of butter in a large pot.

Add two handfuls of rice, a teaspoon of salt and three teaspoons of curry powder.

Add boiling water and veal gravy and leave on a medium heat.

Cut the chicken into eight pieces off the bone.

Fry the chicken and the onions in a large nob of butter until the meat is browned and the onions soft.

Add the chicken and the onion to the pot and cook until the meat is tender.

Before you take it off add lemon rind rubbed in salt, the juice of a lemon and a tablespoon of Indian pickle (optional).

The chicken can be swapped for lobster, veal or rabbit.


THE CHICKEN CURRY RECIPE (AS IT WAS WRITTEN)

Three spoonfuls of curry powder

Two spoonfuls of rice

A tea-spoonful of salt

Two large onions

A chicken Lemon rind

Veal gravy Butter

[Original recipe word for word]

Take an ounce of butter and make it hot in your stew pan, put to it about two spoonfuls of rice pounded fine, a teaspoonful of salt and three of curry powder.

With a little veal gravy, boil it up and cut them fricasee fashion and fry them in butter with two large onions thin.

Put them to the other ingredients and let it all stew to tender before you take it off put in the rind of a lemon rubbed in salt and the juice of a large one. A small bit of Indian pickle will improve it.

Do Lobster, Veal or Rabbit the same way.

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Last edited by Blackleaf; 4 weeks ago at 05:32 AM..
 
Curious Cdn
#2
Ahhh, the slave trade ...

... the good old days of Empah.

youtu.be/mOoBE4rMUHw (external - login to view)
 
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