The British may have left India, but their legacy lives on – atleast when it comes to our culinary heritage. From dishes that have made it to the mainstream such as the mulligatawny soup to chutneys to techniques such as Balti cooking, there is a lot that has been absorbed into our heritage.
British Influence on Indian Food
While the Indians readily accepted Ketchup into their everyday eating, most of the other dishes were looked as watered-down versions of the regular curries. For example, the iconic Railway Mutton Curry is a low-spiced curry tempered down with coconut milk and potatoes, suitable for the British palate. Or take the East Indian Fish Curry, which is actually named after The British East India Company, draws a lot of influences from the Maharashtrian-style of cooking yet most popular in Bengal. The inter-state crossovers is one of the staples of this cuisine.
Anglo Indian food vs British Raj Cuisine
While the food history can be tracked back to the early 1800s, you would be surprised to know the difference between Anglo-Indian cooking and that from the British Raj. For starters, Anglo-Indian cooking involved people of mixed race (British and Indian) bringing together flavours that they were comfortable with – pies, pishpash and kedegerees which are staples in these homes. Of course, the Brits loved Indian food but the Indian influence on the British culture is what the difference is in the British Raj cuisine. This cuisine uses Indian food as their base and then temper it down to their taste. Which is why things like the Steamroller Chicken and the Country Captain’s Chicken Curry are closer to Indian flavours.
Forgotten recipes come alive
Keeping this focus in mind, Chef Sandeep Kalra of Trident, Gurgaon dived deep into research about two months ago. And now, he has brought out a terrific menu at Saffron which is quite the blast from the past. With stories behind each dish, there’s a bit of the past everyone can taste from. Take for example the Dak Bunglow Murghi Roast – cooked in the oven, it is an amalgamation of spices that you can find in both the Indian and the British cupboards. Or the Nargisi Kofta, named after the Nargis flower, yet a version of the scotch egg which is a medium-boiled egg covered in minced meat and deep-fried and served as a snack. It is things such as Bandy Coy Fry and Polo Pillaf that has hints of the bygone era in them.
Where: Saffron, Trident Gurgaon
When: Till September 8, 2017
Timing: 12.30 pm to 3 pm (Lunch) | 7.30 pm to 11.30 pm (Dinner)
Price: An Average meal for 2 is Rs. 3500 plus taxes.
The Thali is available at Rs. 1475 plus taxes and dinner set menus at Rs. 3500 plus taxes per person.
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She has been a journalist, food blogger and a food consultant. A cookbook addict, Ruchira has been cooking since she was 9 years old and in 2011, she was on Masterchef Indian Season 2 where she made it to the top 12. She is also a food stylist and a food photographer along which she blogs at The Great Cookaroo where she not only shares the recipes she has developed or read about but also her unique life experiences with food.