Foody Friday: Currey

Nov 14, 2009 by

I completly flaked on the rest of the jams, I’m afraid, but I’m back with curries now. Nice and warming.


Three pounds of veal my darling girl prepares,
And chops it nicely into little squares;
Five onions next prures the little minx
(The biggest are the best, her Samiwel thinks),
And Epping butter nearly half a pound,
And stews them in a pan until they’re brown’d.
What’s next my dexterous little girl will do?
She pops the meat into the savoury stew,
With curry-powder table-spoonfuls three,
And milk a pint (the richest that may be),
And, when the dish has stewed for half an hour,
A lemon’s ready juice she’ll o’er it pour.
Then, bless her! Then she gives the luscious pot
A very gentle boil – and serves quite hot.
PS – Beef, mutton, rabbit, if you wish,
Lobsters, or prawns, or any kind fish,
Are fit to make a CURRY. ‘Tis, when done,
A dish for Emperors to feed upon.

William Makepeace Thackeray

People in the UK tend to assume curry appeared in the 1950s, but the first recipe appears in Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy in 1747. The price of spices was already on its way down as trade grew, which meant it was available to people other than the very rich. Better trade meant faster trade, which meant fresher spice, which meant stronger flavours, which meant you didn’t need as much (it’s worth bearing in mind with older recipes that qunatities are obsurdly high, due to the fact most of the spices were stale. You don’t want to follow them word for word!).

Curry powder put in an appearance in the late eighteenth century, a uniquely British invention. Mrs Beeton gives a recipe for it, but more money could be saved by buying pre-made curry powder. The first curry house opened in 1810. Queen Victoria loved the stuff, William Makepeace Thackeray wrote a poem to it (see above), and we invented half a dozen of our own and exported them back.

We’ll start near the beginning today, though, with Hannah Glasse’s “To Make a Currey the Indian Way”


2 small chickens
3 large onions
2 oz butter
1 oz tumeric
1 tablespoon ginger and black pepper
2 lemons (juice of)
1/4 pint cream


large saucepan
sharp knife and chopping board
pestle and mortar if your spices are fresh
frying pan


Cut the flesh from the chickens. Rinse and boil with two pints of water for about five minutes.

Strain off the liquid (keep it) and put the chicken in a dish

Chop and fry the onions with the butter. Or a small amount of oil, if you don’t like heart attacks. When soft, add hte chikcen and fry until brown.

Add the tumeric, ginger and pepper, and salt to taste.

Pour the liquid back in and let it stew for about half an hour. This is more of a stew than a curry as we know it today. If you want something more curry-esque, skip this step.

Add the cream and lemon juice. Serve with rice and enjoy!


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