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Est. 1996

Issue 194

February 2013

The Origins of Railway Lamb / Mutton Curry

by Peter Grove





Railway Lamb / Mutton Curry (mild Rogan Josh) is a direct throw back to the days of the British Raj, when travelling by train was considered aristocratic. This very popular and slightly spicy dish was served in Railway Refreshment Rooms and on long distance trains, with Bread or Dinner Rolls. The curry was not too spicy keeping in mind the delicate palates of the British. It was also popular with the Railway staff who had to be on duty for long periods at a stretch.

The stpry goes that an English army officer found himself ravishingly hungry during his journey. He followed his nose to the kitchen car where spicy mutton curry was simmering. He was offered a taste and burnt his tongue because of the spices. The helpful cook reduced the heat with some coconut milk and served it up. Since then it has become a staple on all First Class Compartments of the train as First Class Railway Mutton Curry.

The vinegar or Tamarind juice used in its preparation would ensure that the curry would last for quite a few days and was an ideal accompaniment with rice as well.

Serves 6 Preparation Time 45 minutes

½ kg mutton or lamb cut into medium size pieces
6 peppercorns
2 big onions sliced
2 pieces cinnamon
2 cloves
2 cardamoms
8 to 10 curry leaves
4 red chilies broken into bits
1teaspoon chilli powder
1teaspoon ginger garlic paste
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons vinegar or ½ cup of tamarind juice

Wash the meat and mix it with the ginger garlic paste, salt and the chilly powder. Heat oil in a pan and fry the onions, curry leaves, red chillies and spices till golden brown. Add the meat and mix well. Fry for a few minutes. Add the vinegar / Tamarind juice and sufficient water and cook on medium heat till the meat is done. Keep frying until the gravy is thick and dark brown.

The ingredients change in accordance to the availability of local items. For example, the Railway Mutton Curry made in Kolkata is likely to use mustard oil, while in Bangalore they will use sunflower oil.


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Mood Food is published by FSR, London, England © 2013


Peter J. Grove

Editorial office: PO Box 416 Surbiton, Surrey, England, KT1 9BJ

Tel: 020 8399 4831

email: GroveInt@aol.com