A favourite with British diners today, Indian cookery was given a boost in Great Britain when Queen Victoria became Empress of India in 1877. The queen developed an interest in Indian culture, learning Urdu and even decorating a room in Osborne House, her Isle of Wight residence, according to Indian fashion. Furthermore, Queen Victoria was also keen to explore the country’s cuisine, and had two Indian servants gifted to her who could prepare authentic dishes for the monarch. It’s claimed that by the end of the 1880s, different varieties of curries were a staple of Queen Victoria’s weekly menu.
At the recently opened Curry Room at the Rubens at the Palace, diners have a chance to enjoy an Indian feast for themselves. Chef Arun Kumar heads up the kitchen and has worked closely with The Oyster Box Hotel’s Head Chef, Kevin Joseph, famed for his Curry Buffet, to create an authentic and utterly delicious menu. Snack on starters of Keema Samoosas and poppadums served with the traditional pickle, chutney and raita. Fragrant mains include a Natal lamb curry, butter chicken and a spicy beef Vindaloo. Round off your meal with a cooling Kulfi ice cream or fresh papaya sorbet.
Located just opposite Buckingham Palace, where Queen Victoria lived during her reign, The Curry Room at the Rubens at the Palace has its very own royal atmosphere. To experience the kind of Indian dishes that Queen Victoria would have enjoyed, learn how to make curried mutton cutlets with this historic recipe, thought to have been one of the Queen’s favourites.
Recipe for Mutton Cutlets Favoured by Queen Victoria, c.1860
From Court Favourites Recipes by Elizabeth Craig (1953)
6oz cold roast mutton
3oz sieved breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon of salt
Coralline (red) pepper to taste
2oz minced mushrooms
½ tsp curry powder (mixture of coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek and chilli peppers)
½ pint rich beef stock
Begin by weighing the mutton without skin or bone and then finely mince the meat. Add crumbs, salt, Coralline pepper and mushrooms to the mince before dicing the truffles and adding them to the mix. Stir in curry powder. Melt the butter in a shallow saucepan and add flour. When these are blended together, stir in the stock. Stir till smooth and boiling, then add the mixed ingredients and stir until blended. Turn onto a buttered plate and chill. Divide into eight equal portions and shape into cutlets. Before cooking, egg and crumb the cutlets. Fry in hot fat until golden brown – about five minutes. Slip a stalk of macaroni about 1½ inches long, into each. Dish up in a circle and fill the centre with fried parsley sprigs.
Experience an Indian feast fit for a queen at the Curry Room at the Rubens at the Palace.