It’s easy to be misled by ‘food writers’ that British people only realised ‘foreign food’ existed fairly recently, and to credit all sorts of people with bringing ‘colour’ to our meals and so called exotic ingredients to our kitchens… We’ve always loved unusual and different food, and if you go back into the earliest cookery books, or notebooks from chefs and cooks way back into the early middle ages, you will find all sorts of interesting ingredients and recipes.

After the war, after years of rationing gradually foods came ‘off the ration’ and reappeared in shops and markets, and cooks started to bring colour and variety back to dishes… In the little cookery booklet from Spillers, the flour manufacturer, priced 1/- (1 shilling) and published in the late 50’s early 60’s, you can find local specialities such as Cornish saffron cake, Devonshire splits, Cumberland rum butter, and fidget pie which I wrote about yesterday, traditional favourites from the middle ages such as flummery and simnel cake, and dishes from other countries, Mexican custard, Portuguese sautéed chicken, and a Ceylon sea curry. These recipes may have been adapted for the taste of the time, and more because of the ingredients available, but it still shows that interest in different sort of food and flavours.

Ceylon Sea Curry

  • 2 oz butter
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 level tsp corn flour
  • 1 level tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch ground ginger
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut infused with about ½pint boiling water
  • 2 bananas quartered
  • lemon juice
  • salt
  • sugar
  • 1 pint of frozen or 1½ pints fresh prawns or shrimps
  • rice
  1. melt the butter in a pan and toss the onion and garlic in it and fry lightly
  2. add the cornflour and spices, mix thoroughly and cook gently for about 10 mins
  3. add the bananas and prawns (the recipe suggests cooking for ½hour – but just follow instructions on the packet for the prawns)
  4. add the drained coconut
  5. stir well, adding lemon juice and sugar “till the right level of piquancy is reached)
  6. serve with the cooked rice

 

 

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