Month: December 2016

Consider The Mutton Curry


Today we are taking a huge step back in time and heading back to  the time of gas lamps, hansom cabs and thick London fogs.  How nice then in this cold inhospitable atmosphere to pop into the Oriental Club for a spicy mutton curry to warm your cockles on a cold winter’s night!  Just think, Arthur Conan Doyle could have tucked into this curry as he pondered the intricacies of the first Sherlock Holmes story.  

And now you can too!

19th Century Curry 2 Our mutton curry comes from  1861  from The Oriental Club’s chef, Richard Terry who made use of the ingredients from the first Asian grocery warehouse in  London to recreate a curry recipe he had learned from Indian cooks.  It is also indicative of Britain’s and Briton’s long-lasting love of curry! 

This is certainly not a curry in a hurry!  There are several parts to making this, which is time-consuming but if you have the patience, it is well worth the effort.  Also, whilst the original recipe called for mutton, I used lamb.  I could not find mutton anywhere – not even dressed as lamb.  Funnily enough though, my mum says that in Sri Lanka when any recipe called for lamb or mutton, what they actually used was goat so use what you can get.

19th Century Curry Powder ingredientsFirst up, you need to roast up some spices to make a curry powder.  This will make more than you need for one curry so you will have supplies if you want to make this again or you can use it in other curries. 

19th Century Curry PowderOne thing that is strange about this curry is that you not only need a curry powder but also a curry paste. 

Whilst we’re roasting and grinding those spices, let’s talk Sherlock!  I am a HUGE fan of the BBC series with Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Andrew Scott because who doesn’t love a bad boy right?  And I am over the moon excited to see Series 4.  Tom Hiddleston! Colin Farrell! This series is  going to be AWESOME! 

19th Century Curry Paste IngredientsNow, a very weird thing about this curry paste is that it contains lentils which you grind up.  I have never heard of this technique before but…hey, if it’s good enough for the The Duke of Wellington, who was the President of the Oriental Club back in the day, it’s good enough for me!  The genius stroke is that they help to make the gravy lovely and thick. 

Mutton curry (maybe even one based on this recipe!) features as a clue in a Sherlock Holmes story.  In The Adventure of Silver Blaze, which not only contains the phrase”Consider the mutton curry,” the title of this post but also “the curious incident of the dog in the night-time”, a mutton curry is doused with powdered opium, putting the stable boy meant to be guarding the race horse Silver Blaze into a stupor and hence rendering him unable to do his job. 

19th Century Curry Paste

The paste mix will also make more than you need for one curry but will keep in the fridge for months.

Sadly, Sherlock Holmes may not have been a fan of curry.  At least not according to the 1946 film, Terror by Night.  This however is not based on a Conan Doyle story so this is open for debate.  Terror By Night is also available for free download here.  Personally, I think Sherlock would have been a fan of this mutton curry…with or without a garnish of powdered opium. 

  19th Century Curry 2

The 19th Century Mutton Curry was delicious, dark and spicy, thanks to those lentils, the gravy was lovely and thick and the meat was tender.  This was a winner!  And hey, I’ve got paste and powder left so I’ll definitely be making it again!

Best served with an ice-cold beer! Whilst watching Series 4 of Sherlock!

Any leftovers?  A curry jaffle is THE best hangover food known to man.  Just sayin’. Tis the season after all!

Oh and by the way, the Oriental Club still exists and curries still feature on the menu.  I am adding to the list for a trip to London next year!

19th Century British Mutton Curry
A delicious mutton curry from the days of The Raj, Queen Victoria and Sherlock Holmes!
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19th Century British Curry Powder
  1. 2 tbsp ground turmeric
  2. 5 tsp ground coriander
  3. 2 tsp ground ginger
  4. 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  5. 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  6. 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  7. 1/2 tsp ground cardamom seeds
  8. 1/2 tsp ground cloves
19th Century British Curry Paste
  1. 4 tbsp whole coriander seeds
  2. 2 tbsp yellow split peas
  3. 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  4. 1 1/2 whole cumin seeds
  5. 1 tbsp whole brown mustard seeds
  6. 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  7. 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  8. 1 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  9. 2 tsp salt
  10. 2 tsp sugar
  11. 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  12. 120ml cider vinegar
  13. 6 tbsp corn, peanut or olive oil
  1. 675g bones lamb, cut into 2.5cm cubes
  2. 2 tbsp 19th Century British Curry Powder
  3. 1 tbsp 19th Century British Curry Paste
  4. 200g onions, peeled and finely chopped
  5. 4 tbsp corn, peanut oil or ghee
  6. 3/4 - 1tsp salt
For The 19th Century British Curry Powder
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a jar. Mix. Cover with a tight lid.
  2. Store away from heat and sunlight.
  3. Makes 7 tablespoons.
For The 19th Century British Curry Powder
  1. Put the coriander seeds, split peas, peppercorns and cumin into a medium cast iron frypan and set on medium heat. Stir and roast until the split peas are reddish, the coriander has turned a shade darker and all the spices begin to give off a roasted aroma.
  2. Empty them into a bowl and allow to cool.
  3. Put the roasted spices and the mustard seeds into a spice grinder or food processor and grind as finely as possible. Place in a bowl.
  4. Add thee turmeric, cayenne pepper, ginger, salt, sugar, garlic and vinegar.
  5. Stir to mix.
  6. Pour the oil into a small non-stick frying pan and set over a medium heat.
  7. Add the spice paste.
  8. Stir and fry for around 5 minutes or until it browns slightly.
  9. Cool, then empty into a jar.
  10. Cover tightly and refrigerate until needed.
For The Curry
  1. Put the oil or ghee in a heavy, wide, lidded pan. Set it over a medium high heat.
  2. When the oil is hot, stir in the onions and fry them until they are lightly browned.
  3. Add the curry powder and curry paste.
  4. Stir a few times then add the meat and half the salt.
  5. Stir and fry for a few minutes until the meat is coated in the spice mix.
  6. Cover and reduce the heat to low.
  7. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add 600ml water and increase the heat/ Bring to the boil.
  9. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for an hour until the meat is tender and the sauce is thick.
  10. Season to taste and serve.
  1. If the sauce is not thick enough, remove the lid and let it boil down.
Adapted from Richard Terry's Indian Cookery, 1861 via Madhur Jaffrey
Adapted from Richard Terry's Indian Cookery, 1861 via Madhur Jaffrey
Retro Food For Modern Times
Have a great week!  Enjoy your holidays if you are on them, enjoy Sherlock S4 if you are watching.  Let me know if you are, we can compare notes after!

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Choc Ripple Christmas Wreath

Still looking for a quick and easy dessert to make for Christmas Day?  Look no further than my Chocolate Ripple Christmas Wreath!  It’s also as pretty as a picture and delicious to  boot!

Choc Ripple Christmas WreathMaking this could not be easier.  Get a pack of plain chocolate biscuits, whip up some cream.  Add a hefty splash of booze – I chose amaretto but you could use limoncello or Baileys or Kirsch, whatever you have or like.  Add a large spoonful of icing sugar into the cream and stir through.

Then sandwich your biscuits together with the cream mixture and shape into a wreath. 

Choc Ripple Christmas Wreath2Don’t worry too much about getting the shape perfect at first.  Once you have the general shape you can push the biscuits together to make a neater circle.  Then cover the top and sides with the remaining cream mixture.

Choc Ripple Christmas Wreath3Pop this into the fridge for a few hours to set.  Then decorate – I used cherries, blueberries, strawberries and mint leaves.

Choc Ripple Christmas WreathWow!  Has anyone else felt that 2016 was a tumultuous year?  I am so glad to be coming to the end of it.  I am exhausted and looking forward to the break.  No work for me until 6 January so I have a lot of time for some much required r&r.

Choc Ripple Christmas Wreath
A quick, easy and delicious festive dessert.
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  1. 1 pack plain chocolate biscuits
  2. 500ml thickened cream
  3. 1 tbsp icing sugar
  4. 1 tbsp Amaretto or liqueur of your choice
  5. Cherries, berries and mint leaves to decorate
  1. Pour the cream into a large bowl and beat until firm peaks form. Add the Amaretto and icing sugar and fold through.
  2. Spread each biscuit with approximately 2 teaspoons of the cream and sandwich together. Form into a wreath shape.
  3. Cover with the remaining cream and place in the fridge to set for four hours or overnight.
  4. When ready to serve, garnish with cherries, berries and mint leaves.
Adapted from Woolworth's Christmas Leaflet 2015
Adapted from Woolworth's Christmas Leaflet 2015
Retro Food For Modern Times
 Wishing you all the very best for the Festive Season!  I hope it’s wonderful however you choose to celebrate. 

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French Pink Lady

How can I have been doing this so long and never have spoken about my unabiding love for the movie Grease?  I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have watched it.  And I always wanted to be in a cool girl gang like The Pink Ladies.  However , today we are not going to talk about my want to be this type of pink lady:

But about a classic cocktail of the same name – possibly the inspiration for the name of the aforementioned girl gang as I believe the Pink Lady was popular drink in the 1950’s.  My “French” take on the classic Pink Lady is that, traditionally applejack is an ingredient in a Pink Lady.  However, Applejack was not available in my little suburban bottle shop so I subbed in Calvados. Using French Apple brandy is also a teeny homage to one of the Pink Ladies, Frenchie!

So, in the infamous words of Rizzo,  “Okay girls, let’s go get ’em”

pink-lady1The Pink Lady has been around for decades, according to the fount of all knowledge Wikipedia, it was already well known in the Prohibition era.  It was also the drink of choice of choice of Hollywood star Jayne Mansfield.  I’m not sure if she is holding a Pink Lady in the picture below but it’s pink so let’s put two and two together and raise a glass with Jayne!  OMG…how glamourous is she!  If just ONE day of my life I could have that sort of va-va-voom I would die happy! 

Don’t let the sweet and innocent look of the Pink Lady lull you into a false sense of security.  This is not girly drink made from sugar and spice and all things nice.  The Pink Lady packs a punch!  It almost straight gin, topped up with Applejack / Calvados, with a dash of grenadine, a splash of lemon juice and an egg white being the non-alcoholic components. 


So, as a little bit of fun, if you are a lover of the Pink Ladies and / or Grease in general, why not  take this fun quiz on Vimio?

Which Grease Character are you?

I’m going to put the recipe first, then I will reveal who I got…

French Pink Lady
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  1. 45ml gin
  2. 22.5 ml calvados
  3. 7.5 ml lemon juice
  4. 1-2 dashes grenadine
  5. 1 egg white
  6. Maraschino cherry for garnish
  1. Pour the gin, calvados, lemon juice and grenadine into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
  2. Shake vigorously.
  3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
Retro Food For Modern Times
Okay, so….I got Marty “You know, as in cherry”, Maraschino.  Very happy to take that.  But then again, I would have been happy with any of the Pinks.  Except maybe Jan.

martyI would love to know who you get if you do the quiz!  Let me know in the comments!

I am on a work trip to Canberra for the next few days.  There will be precious little time for sight-seeing in our Capital city  but I’ll try to fit in a run and see if I can get some photos to share with you all.  And right now I need to go pack my bag for the flight tomorrow morning!

Have a fabulous week and remember – think pink!

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