OUR SATURDAY SPECIAL ANGLO-INDIAN LUNCH – COCONUT RICE, BALL CURRY AND DEVIL CHUTNEY
I was born and brought up in Kolar Gold Fields, a small mining town in the erstwhile Mysore State (Karnataka) in South India. Kolar Gold Fields or K.GF as everyone knows, had a large and predominant British and Anglo-Indian population and was known as THE LITTLE ENGLAND in the olden days. Our lives therefore were influenced to a great extent by British Colonial Culture.Our Food habits were typically Anglo-Indian - Breakfast was normally a bowl of Oats porridge, toast with either butter and jam and Eggs. (Sundays saw sausages, bacon or ham on the Breakfast table). Lunch was a typical Anglo-Indian meal which consisted of Steamed Rice, Beef Curry with vegetables, Pepper water or dhal curry, and a vegetable foogath or side dish. Dinner was always Bread or Dinner rolls with a meat Dry Dish, (It was an unwritten rule that we didn’t eat rice at night). We normally had either beef or mutton every day, fish invariably on Wednesdays and Fridays and Pork or Chicken or Fowl on Sundays.
My mum was en exceptional cook and even the most ordinary dishes cooked by her tasted delicious. She was very versatile and imaginative when it came to cooking. She would improvise and turn out the most delicious curries and side dishes with whatever ingredients were on hand. Every dish she prepared was delicious even if it was just the basic Rice and Meat Curry that was cooked every day. My mum had a procedure for everything. The onions had to be thinly sliced and the green chillies and coriander leaves chopped finely. Even the tomatoes for the curry were first scalded or blanched and the skin removed, then chopped into bits and strained through a strainer / sieve so that only the pulp was used and the seeds and skin thrown away!!!
While our everyday lunch was considered simple, lunch on Saturdays and Sundays was special. Saturday lunch was invariably Yellow Coconut Rice, Mince Ball Curry (or Bad Word Curry as the word ‘Ball’ was considered a bad or slang word in those days), and Devil Chutney. My mind still recalls and relishes the taste of the Mince Ball Curry and Coconut Rice that my mum prepared on Saturdays for us. On Saturdays we had only half-day school so we were back home by 12.30 pm ravenously hungry and we’d be assailed by the delicious aroma of the Coconut Rice and the Tasty Mince Ball Curry even before we reached our gate.
The mince for the Ball Curry, had to be just right, so the meat, (either beef or mutton), was brought home fresh from the Butcher Shop, cut into pieces, washed and then minced at home. (We had our own meat-mincing machine and Coconut Scraper which was fixed to the kitchen table like every Anglo-Indian family in those days. No making of the Mince at the Butchers as it had to be double ground in the Mincer only at home). The ground meat or mince, was then formed into even sized balls along with other chopped ingredients and dropped into the boiling Curry which was meanwhile cooking on the stove. The curry was then left to simmer till the mince balls were cooked and the gravy reached the right consistency.
The Yellow Coconut Ricewas always prepared with freshly squeezed coconut milk, Sometimes, two fresh coconuts would be broken and then scraped or grated. The scraped/grated coconut had to be soaked in hot water and the thick milk extracted. For every cup of rice double the quantity of coconut milk was the right proportion; a little more would make the rice ‘pish pash’ or over cooked, and a little less would mean that the rice wouldn’t be cooked well. So very accurate measurements were required. The raw rice and coconut milk would then be simmered with ghee or butter, saffron or turmeric, bay leaves and a few whole spices of cinnamon, cardamom and cloves till the rice was cooked perfectly. This delightful fragrant Rice preparation formed the perfect mild subtle base of our Saturday Special Anglo-Indian Meal.
The Yellow Coconut Rice and Mince Ball Curry (also known as Bad Word Curry) was always accompanied with a typical Anglo-Indian Sauce or Relish known as Devil Chutney. Devil Chutney is a fiery red chutney or sauce. Its bright red colour often misleads people to think that it is a very pungent and spicy dish, while its actually a sweet and sour sauce, and only slightly pungent. The vinegar and sugar used in its preparation react with the onion and red chilli to produce the bright red colour. Devil Chutney is also known as “Hell fire or Hell’s flame chutney or Fiery Mother-in-law’s Tongue Chutney” due to its vivid colour.
I would now like to share my mum’s recipes for these three special dishes. They are very easy to prepare.
YELLOW COCONUT RICE
Serves 6 Preparation Time 45 minutes
1 pack of coconut milk diluted with water to get 4 cups of milk or 1 fresh coconut grated and milk extracted to get 4 cups of diluted milk
2 cups of Raw Rice or Basmati Rice
½ teaspoon turmeric powder or a few strands of saffron
Salt to taste
4 tablespoons butter or ghee
3 cloves, 3 cardamoms, 3 small sticks of cinnamon and 2 bay leaves
Heat ghee in a large vessel or Rice cooker and fry the spices for a few minutes. Add the washed rice, salt, turmeric and 4 cups of coconut milk and cook till the rice is done.
Coconut Rice is best served with Ball Curry or Chicken curry and Devil Chutney.
ANGLO-INDIAN MINCE BALL CURRY (BAD WORD CURRY)
(Mince Koftas in a coconut based gravy)
Serves 6 Preparation time 45 minutes
Ingredients for the Curry
3 large onions chopped
6 or 7 curry leaves
3 teaspoons chilli powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
3 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
3 big tomatoes pureed or chopped finely
½ cup ground coconut paste
1 teaspoon all spice powder or garam masala
Salt to taste
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon coriander leaves chopped finely for garnishing
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
Ingredients for the Mince Balls (Koftas)
½ kg minced meat beef or mutton (fine mince)
½ teaspoon all spice powder or garam masala powder
3 green chilies chopped
A small bunch of coriander leaves chopped finely
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
Heat oil in a large pan and fry the onions till golden brown. Add the ginger garlic paste and the curry leaves and fry for some time. Now add the chili powder, coriander powder, all spice powder or garam masala powder, turmeric powder and coconut, and fry for a few minutes till the oil separates from the mixture. Now add the tomato puree and salt and simmer for some time. Add sufficient water and bring to boil.
Meanwhile get the Mince Balls ready - Mix the all spice powder / garam masala powder, salt, chopped green chilies, turmeric powder and coriander leaves with the mince and form into small balls. When the curry is boiling, drop in the mince balls carefully one by one.
Simmer on slow heat for 20 minutes till the balls are cooked and the gravy is not too thick.
Serve hot with Coconut Rice and Devil Chutney.
DEVIL CHUTNEY (HELL’S FLAME CHUTNEY)
2 medium size onions chopped roughly
1 teaspoon red chilli powder (use Kashmiri Chillie Powder)
1 tablespoon raisins (optional)
2 teaspoons sugar
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons vinegar
Grind all the above ingredients together till smooth. If chutney is too thick, add a little more vinegar.
Serve with Coconut Rice and Mince Ball Curry