It is difficult to consider the culinary history of Britain without thinking about its ties to India, as far back as the Bronze Age, when the Silk Road & later direct sea routes were used to transport spices & plants. Over hundreds of years, a culinary love story developed and dishes like coronation chicken, kedgeree, chicken tikka masala & mulligatawny became part of the national identity.
The love for ‘curry’ weaves through many generations and Indian cuisine has firmly made it into the hearts and onto the plates of Britain. Over time, flavours have been adjusted to suit the British palate making dishes creamier, thicker, and sweeter. Menus are often extensive and in order to to create a range of dishes to suit all preferences dishes are categorised by heat level, a concept unknown in India.
Tastes are changing, people are looking to connect with different cultures and communities in a more authentic and meaningful way and the ‘Behind the British Curry’ range will share stories of the ancestral heritage of some of these well known curries, and will introduce you to the exciting & flavoursome truths of this wonderful cuisine.
Pestle is the lovechild of chef and world traveller Neha Hampton, she developed the concept of the British Curry selection for The Ethical Butcher and we're very proud to launch her exceptional ready to cook pastes.
The range consists of 3 pastes to make at home with our meats and we've chosen the 3 British classics of Korma, Vindaloo and Tikka. Each one represents a different tie between the 2 countries, the Vindaloo has its origins in trade routes, the Korma in colonisation as it was adapted to suit British tastes in India and the Tikka was invented in the UK but thought of as being Indian showing how we borrow from other cultures.
The amazing ease of use of these pastes will make a real treat for a weekday supper and preparation couldn't be easier.
There are a number of theories surrounding the origins of this dish, the most widely believed is that this British dish was created in Scotland in the 1970’s by a Bangladeshi chef who added a creamy tomato sauce to spiced marinaded chicken after a customer complained the dish to be too dry. Whatever it’s history, this distinct and blatant fusion of British and Indian tastes makes it the most popular curry dish in the UK.
The origins of tikka date back 5000 years to the Mughal Dynasty. This popular tandoori meat was later adapted to the Murgh Makhani by Kundan Lal in Delhi, Northern India which bears an uncanny resemble to the nations favourite curry.
This paste is blended with warming spices such as cardamon, fennel, mace and cinnamon with caramelised onions, garlic and ginger to create an indulgent curry that will be a hit with all the family.
Recipe - just 3 steps on your culinary journey…..
You’ll need: 500g diced chicken, 400ml passata, 50ml cream (dairy or non diary), 30g butter (optional)
- Brown chicken in a dry pan for a few minutes
- Add paste and passata & bring to a gentle simmer, cover and cook on a medium heat for 30-40 mins
- Remove from heat and gently stir in cream and butter (optional)
Useful tips: Stir frequently and add water if sauce thickens too quickly. Allow to cool for a few minutes before adding cream and butter to avoid splitting.
Alternative uses: This paste makes an incredible marinade for BBQ’s or slow roasts - simply mix paste with 1 tbsp yogurt and 1 tsp tomato puree and marinade for 4-24 hours before cooking.
The famous ‘Brindian’ Korma, safe for even the novice to try - a perfect marketing tactic for restaurants to create a range to suit all heat palates. This sweet, creamy curry made with coconut milk or cream is a firm favourite but the British version couldn’t be further from its origins.
Korma is an adaptation on the Urdu name Qorma, meaning ‘to braise’ - the dish originates from Moghul rulers and can be traced back as a banquet dish in the 16th century. This curry is rich, can be served alongside various meats or vegetables and would usually be medium heat but can vary. Said to have been served at the inauguration of the Taj Mahal by Shah Jahan, this dish now has many variations and styles across the subcontinent.
This paste is made of warming spices such as mace, cinnamon, coriander and cumin combined with yogurt for a luxurious celebratory dish.
Recipe: Just 3 steps on your culinary journey…..
You’ll need: 500g diced lamb, 250ml water, 1 heaped tbsp yogurt (dairy or non dairy)
- Add paste and water to pan and bring to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes before adding lamb
- Loosely cover and cook for 60 minutes until tender
- Remove from heat, then gently stir through yogurt
Useful tips: Stir frequently and add water if sauce thickens too quickly, Remove lid for last 10 minutes of cooking time. Allow to cool for a few minutes before adding yogurt to avoid splitting.
Alternative uses: This paste makes an incredible marinade for kebabs or slow roasted lamb - simply mix paste with 1 tbsp yogurt and marinade for 4-24 hours before cooking.
‘The hottest curry on the menu’… this British adaptation has created a fiery tomato based curry, often with fresh and dried chillies and definitely not one for the faint hearted.
In India, this dish traces back to Portuguese explorers in the 15th century who introduced ‘carne vinha d'alhos’ traditionally meat cooked in wine vinegar and garlic. The dish was adapted to local conditions - with no vinegar, they used palm wine and added local ingredients like tamarind, black pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom. Chillies arrived with Vasco De Gama in 1498, eventually replacing or complimenting black pepper as a source of heat in Goan cuisine.
This Goan version is hot, but the flavours of dried aromatic spices such as roasted black cardamon, kashmiri chillies and pepper with tangy vinegar & tamarind create a delightful, fiery and aromatic curry.
Recipe - Just 3 steps on your culinary journey…..
You’ll need: 500g diced pork or beef, 250ml water
- Add paste and water to pan and bring to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes before adding meat
- Loosely cover and cook for 60 minutes until tender
- Remove cover and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes to thicken sauce
Useful tips: Brown meat before adding to curry. Stir frequently and add water if sauce thickens too quickly,
Alternative uses: Use paste as a marinade for meat or paneer. Marinade for no more than 2 hours as vinegar can toughen meat