During colonial rule, Britishers influenced the country in many ways. One of the important parts is influencing the culinary aspect of the country, one of which is ‘Railway Lamb Curry.’ The dish has historical as well as cultural significance. Read below to learn more.
Even before the Independence of India, the country was shaped by flavours and influences over centuries. Several cultural exchanges and historical events took place between the countrymen of India and Great Britain. These influences had an impact on the culinary aspect of the country, and one such dish is the railway lamb (mutton) curry. Originating during the British Raj, railway lamb or mutton curry has managed to transcend time, becoming a cherished part of Indian culinary heritage.
The British colonization of India, which lasted for nearly two centuries, significantly influenced various aspects of Indian society, including its cuisine. The British introduced the railways in the 19th century, which played a role in shaping modern India. The British were fond of lamb, and when combined with Indian spices, chefs on the railways experimented with a dish that would cater to both Britishers and Indians. Thus, taking inspiration from Indian curries and British lamb stew, Railway Lamb Curry was born.
Britishers during colonial rule found Kosha Mangsho to be too spicy. They actually liked the soul of the dish, which might have given rise to its variation called railway lamb curry. The dish got its name after it was served in the first-class dining cars on long-distance trains or in the refreshment rooms during the British Raj along with bread.
This lamb curry was first served on the long-distance train (The Blue Train), which travelled from Bombay to Calcutta. The more we delve, the more we find out that this dish is a fusion of English spices like bay leaves, cloves, pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom with Indian elements such as cumin, turmeric, ginger, garlic, red chilies, etc. The vinegar or Tamarind used in the preparation ensured that the curry would last for a few days and could be paired with bread, roti, or rice.
There’s another story that goes behind the history of Railway Lamb Curry. A drunken English officer once entered the kitchen of the train and tried to do something with the mutton. Thus, he went on to create the legendary dish, Railway Lamb Curry, by asking the cooks to tone down the spice levels a bit.
Railway Lamb Curry Recipe
Railway Lamb Curry lies in its ability to embody history and diversity on a plate. The dish's popularity extended beyond British travellers to encompass various communities across India. As it traversed different regions, the recipe underwent local adaptations, incorporating regional spices and ingredients like swapping yoghurt with coconut milk, etc. This culinary cross-pollination reflects the multicultural nature of India and its dynamic gastronomic landscape.
The railway lamb curry can be made with lamb or mutton. They are an easy-to-make dish and can be easily tried at home.
Take a look at how to make this special Railway Lamb curry at home:
Railway mutton spice powder: