MINCE AND POTATOES & EGG KEDEGREEArticle from the Scottish Times 12/04/09....Pamela Timms
In Bangalore,last week I met Bridget White-Kumar, an obsessive chronicler of all things Anglo-Indian and author of five recipe books crammed with such delights as “grandma’s country captain chicken” and “railway mutton curry”.
At first glance, Bangalore, the home of modern India’s IT miracle, is a city that more than any other has freed itself from every trace of the Raj. Yet I found a community that has held on to many Scottish and English food traditions and used them to carve out its own identity.
Kumar greeted me with tea and shortbread. When she rustled up mince and tatties and said I could borrow her precious old recipe books, I was ready for her to adopt me. They include a rare 1874 edition of the Madras Cookery Book, written anonymously by “an English resident’s wife”, which contains recipes — or “receipts” as the memsahib called them — for Caledonian classics such as Scotch broth, mashed turnips and scones.
Bridget is no misty-eyed imperialist but a member of Bangalore’s 15,000-strong Anglo-Indian community, descendents of Scottish and English families who came to seek their fortunes in the colonies.
After independence, one might have imagined Anglo-Indians would have been glad to see the back of meat loaf and sago pudding, but the community, although proudly Indian, identifies closely with Scottish and English traditions and food.
Bridget’s own grandfather was a Scot named Percy Edgar Joseph and, through the enthusiastic scribblings of her mother and grandmother, she has inherited a vast collection of Anglo-Indian recipes.
Her mince and tatties, although unsurprisingly more peppery than we’re used to, bears a striking resemblance to the one I grew up with. I was amused to hear that it occupied the same place in her family culinary repertoire as it did in my family's. “It’s what we have when I can’t think what else to make,” she says.
While we devoured the mince, kedgeree and semolina pudding, Bridget told me about her early life on the British-run Kolar Gold Fields, in Karnataka where her father worked. Although she can’t remember where the mince and tatties recipe came from, the fact she remembers more MacIntyres and MacDonalds than Malhotras and Methas in her community offers some strong clues.
I left Bangalore with a heavy stomach and even heavier heart, vowing to go back as soon as possible.