Enjoy Indian food, British style

Britain first started borrowing Indian dishes in the Victorian era, during the British Raj, creating Anglo-Indian cuisine.

Queen Victoria made it fashionable by having her Indian cook make this food every day and it remains one of England’s most popular ethnic cuisines.

The word curry is not used in India. It is a general word for the sauces from the subcontinent and refers to light, coloured, spiced sauces on food.

Chicken tikka is more Anglo than Indo. It probably cannot be found in India, but we have grown to know it as Indian cuisine and it is hugely popular.

Biryani is a festive dish that takes a bit of work but makes a beautiful presentation. Raita, a yogurt salad, is a part of every Indian meal.

According to the Times of India, biryani is made with the heart and not the mind. The ratio of meat to rice should be 50:50. One essential component is that the person who cooks eats last after serving others.

The best biryani is at least five kilograms (11 lb.) of ingredients. That is a lot of biryani: the idea is that whatever is left over goes to charity.

Lamb biryani

  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 1/4 c. boiling water 60 mL
  • 2 c. basmati or long grain rice 500 mL
  • 1 c. ghee or unsalted butter, approximately 250 mL
  • 2 medium onions, peeled, cut lengthwise and then sliced paper thin
  • 1/4 c. each unsalted cashews, slivered almonds, pistachios and raisins 60 mL
  • 2 tsp. salt 10 mL
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger root 15 mL
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped garlic 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds 5 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper, as cayenne1 mL
  • 2 lb. lean boneless lamb, beef or chicken cut into 1 inch (5 cm) cubes 1 kg
  • 4 inch cinnamon stick 20 cm
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom seeds 1 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. ground mace 1 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg 1 mL
  • 1 c. chicken stock 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. plain yogurt 125 mL combined with
  • 1/2 c. light cream 125 mL

Place saffron threads in small bowl with 1/4 c. (60 mL) boiling water and soak until needed.
Bring large pot of salted water to a boil and slowly add rice. Test rice after 10 minutes as you would pasta. When rice is al dente, strain and let rest. When well drained, it will be light and fluffy.
Heat 1/4 c. (60 mL) butter or ghee in heavy bottomed large pot, saute onions until soft golden brown. Set aside. In same pan, sauté nuts and raisins until lightly browned. Add more butter if necessary. Set aside.

Add ginger, garlic, cumin and cayenne, stirring constantly for a minute. Add meat and brown on all sides. Then add cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, cardamom seeds, mace, nutmeg and stock and yogurt cream mixture. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until meat is tender.
In oven proof serving dish, layer half the rice. Spoon over two tbsp. (30 mL) of the saffron water with some of the threads. Then add meat and another layer of rice.
Add remainder of saffron and water over the rice. Add layer of sauteed onions. Spoon some of the liquid from meat, pouring slowly down inside of dish. Cover securely, with aluminum foil if necessary.
Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until fully heated.
To serve, remove from oven and top with toasted nuts and raisins.
In India this dish would be further garnished with small sheets of edible silver leaf. Serves 12 to 14.

Vij’s coconut kale from Vij’s Restaurant, Vancouver

  • 1 lb. kale 500 g
  • 3 c. coconut milk 750 mL
  • 1 tbsp. salt 15 mL
  • 1 tsp. cayenne 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. paprika 5 mL
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice 60 mL

Wash kale thoroughly and cut off stalks. Cut kale leaves into serving size pieces.

In a pot, melt coconut milk on low heat until lukewarm. Transfer to a large stainless steel bowl and add seasonings. Stir in kale leaves, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours.
Preheat a barbecue or stovetop cast iron grill to high heat. Drain from marinade and cook until tender. Serve immediately. Serves eight.

Chicken tikka masala

  • 6 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 4 tsp. peeled ginger, finely grated 20 mL
  • 4 tsp. ground turmeric 20 mL
  • 2 tsp. each garam masala, ground coriander and ground cumin 10 mL each
  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk yogurt (not Greek) 375 mL
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt 15 mL
  • 2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into serving size pieces 1 kg
  • 3 tbsp. ghee or butter 45 mL
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c. tomato paste 60 mL
  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes 3 mL
  • 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes 828 mL
  • 2 c. heavy cream 500 mL
  • 3/4 c. chopped fresh 185 mL
  • cilantro plus sprigs for garnish

Combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, salt and cumin in a small bowl.
Add half of this spice mixture to yogurt and whisk. Add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and chill four to six hours.
Heat ghee or butter in large heavy pot over medium heat.
Add onion, tomato paste, cardamom and chiles and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft, about five minutes.
Add remaining half of spice mixture and cook, stirring often, until bottom of pot begins to brown, about four minutes.
Add tomatoes with juices, crushing them with your hands as you add them.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pot until the sauce thickens, eight to 10 minutes.

Add cream and chopped cilantro. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 30 to 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack inside sheet. Arrange chicken on rack in a single layer.
Broil until chicken starts to blacken in spots, about 10 minutes. It will not be cooked through.
Turn over and repeat for other side. Add chicken to the sauce, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, eight to 10 minutes.
Serve with rice and cilantro garnish. This can be made two days ahead.
Cover, chill and reheat before serving. Makes eight servings.


  • 1/2 c. finely diced cucumber, seeded 125 mL
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped green onion 15 mL
  • 1 c. plain yogurt 250 mL
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin toasted in a dry pan for 30 seconds 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander 5 mL

Peel cucumber if you wish. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Finely dice. Combine yogurt and cumin and pour over vegetables. Gently mix and season with salt. Chill for at least one hour. This dish will keep for four days in refrigerator.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at allourfingersinthepie.blogspot.ca. Contact: team@producer.com.

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