Lt. Colonel James Skinner or ‘Sikandar Sahib’ was the son of a Scottish British Army officer attached to the East India Company and his Rajput wife. James Skinner (1778-1841) also known as 'Sikander Sahib founded the Irregular Cavalry called 'Skinner's Horse' or the 'Yellow Boys' after their distinctive uniform in plains of Hansi in 1803. The two cavalry regiments he raised for the British were known as 1st Skinner's Horse and 3rd Skinner's Horse (formerly 2nd Skinner's Horse) the most famous cavalry regiments during the Raj. Brought up by Christian and Hindu parents, he married a Muslim. As a tribute for his recovery from battle wounds he built the famous St. James Church which is also known as Skinner’s Church at Kashmiri Gate in Delhi in 1836. It is reported that he also built a mosque and a temple in Delhi.
Skinner’s Horse Regiment , which is still part of the Indian Army was renamed the 1st Bengal Cavalry and then again renamed as the The Bengal Lancers. The recipe for this Shrimp Curry purportedly originated in this Army Regiment Mess (and was later incorporated in the menus of the other Regimental Messes during the time of the Raj), hence the name Bengal Lancers Shrimp Curry. Incidentally, a Sweet mango Chutney is also attributed to Lt. Col James Skinner aptly called Col Skinner’s Mango Chutncy
RECIPE FOR THE BENGAL LANCERS SHRIMP CURRYServes 6 Preparation and cooking Time 45 minutes
1 kg medium size Shrimps / Prawns (cleaned and de-veined)
2 medium size tomatoes chopped
3 onions sliced finely
2 teaspoons chillie powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder (optional)
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon chopped ginger
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
1. Marinate the shrimps / prawns with the chillie powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, vinegar and salt and keep aside for 15 minutes.
2. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions and the chopped garlic and ginger till golden brown.
3. Add the tomatoes and fry till the tomatoes turn pulpy.
4. Add the marinated prawns / shrimps and mix well. Fry for 2 minutes on high heat.
5. Add 1 cup of water and cook on medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes till the prawns / shrimps are cooked.
The gravy should be semi-dry. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves
Serve with rice, Bread or Chapattis