Anglo-Indian Cuisine | The Best of East Meets West

Rudyard Kipling probably didn't have dinner on his mind when he proclaimed, "East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet". However, long before 'fusion food' became trendy, Colonial taste buds collided with Indian palates to form a unique, niche cuisine that blended the best of both Eastern and Western worlds. And thus, evolved 'Anglo-Indian cuisine'. 

Denise Duong, mural, Fort Cochin, Kerala, India

But first, a quick travel back in time to understand how this all came to be. 

Parts of the Indian sub-continent had been under European Colonial rule beginning in the 1400s through the 1960s.

The Portuguese, Dutch, French and British had colonies in India at various and often overlapping times during this period. Tea, spices, cotton, gold and other precious commodities from India were the draw for these countries, who established trading posts in India and traded these commodities with the rest of the world. 

 Denise Duong, mural, Fort Cochin, Kerala, India


Denise Duong, mural, Fort Cochin, Kerala, India

Over the span of five hundred years, it was impossible for Eastern and Western cultures not to influence one another.  The product of an inter-mingling and blending of Eastern and Western race and culture resulted in  a unique, ethnic minority called Anglo-Indians.

As the name suggests, people of mixed British/ European ancestry and Indian ancestry were called Anglo-Indians, sometimes referred to as Eurasians

Denise Duong, mural, Fort Cochin, Kerala, India

An ethnic, minority group in India, they are distinctly characterized by their Christian religion, English  mother tongue and their western cultural leanings (with an Indian twist) in music, dance, dress, eating habits, etiquette and of course, food

Denise Duong, mural, Fort Cochin, Kerala, India

Anglo Indian Cuisine

Anglo Indian food is a fusion of traditional, mellow continental dishes empowered with Indian spices to produce robust flavors that explode on the palate. The fragrant spices of pepper, cardamon, cinnamon and cloves along with fresh, zesty, ginger, garlic, fresh coriander and green chilies are the essence of many Anglo-Indian recipes. For instance, a traditional roast chicken would be dressed up with cinnamon, clove and pepper powder to release mouth watering aromas that the likes of people on the Continent had never experienced before. Cumin, saffron, turmeric, red chilies, along with tamarind and coconut are other elements that were embodied in Anglo-Indian cooking to create thick, rich colorful gravies and curries.

Certain Anglo-Indian dishes lean more toward Portuguese cuisine such as Vindaloo, an adaptation of the Portuguese dish 'carne de vinha d'alhos'. This literally means meat in wine and garlic, but of course prepared with Indian spices of red chilies, cloves and vinegar to make a spicy, tangy, mouth watering meat dish prevalent during Christmas, weddings and other celebrations.

Then there are other Anglo-Indian dishes inspired by the kitchens and pantries of England. Roast Beef and Potatoes, Roast Chicken and Stuffing, hearty stews, puffs, pasties and pies, soups and gravies, cakes and puddings. But, all these dishes have a distinct Indian stamp on them; always with the addition of some unmistakable Indian spice or flavoring, traditional to India.

Traditional Anglo-Indian food is difficult fare to find at a restaurant. Most popular 'Indian Food' that is served at restaurants, both in India and around the world, are foods inspired by the 'North Western Frontier', with Mughlai and Afghan influence- tandoori, naans, butter chicken, palak paneer, dal makhani are dishes that most people are familiar with.

But if you want to dig deeper and explore one of India's less pervasive, but equally rich ethnic cuisines, then Anglo-Indian food is a hidden gem that will not disappoint.

Ball curry and Coconut rice, Cutlets, Potato Chops, Green Masala Pork chops, Tongue Vindaloo, Liver Fry, Mulligatawny Soup, Trotters and Oxtail Stew  are just a few of the the recipes that will melt in your mouth and take you back to a bygone era.

Denise Duong, mural, Fort Cochin, Kerala, India

Check out my favorite Anglo Indian recipes by clicking the links below:

Anglo Indian Curries

Anglo Indian Stews

Anglo Indian Dry Dishes

Anglo Indian Rice Dishes

Anglo Indian Sweets


Suggested readings:
The Browning of the Raj by Maddy's Blog

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