The 104th number of Petits Propos Culinaires, perhaps the best journal in the world devoted to food and its history, has hit the proverbial stands. Writing as Blake Perkins, the Editor has contributed an essay to the number, “Another Anglo-Indian Cuisine: The Cousins of Curry, Featuring ‘A Few Nice Pies.’” Its subject is Colonel Arthur Kenney-Herbert, a fascinating figure and fluent writer. A long-serving cavalry officer with the Indian Army, upon retirement he returned ‘home’ to open a cooking school in Sloane Street, London, called, reasonably enough, the Common-sense Cookery Association.
Before then the colonel contributed a series of articles on food and cooking to several periodicals in India under the pseudonym Wyvern. He assembled many of them for inclusion in Culinary Jottings for Madras, which first appeared in 1878. It is a remarkable book, not only an artifact but also an outstanding cookbook that remains useful today.
The colonel is widely, and justly, admired for his hybrid Raj curries, but they represent but a miniscule percentage of his written output. The overwhelming majority of recipes from Culinary Jottings provide means to cook European dishes, or reasonable facsimiles of them, in the circumstances of nineteenth century India.
Another facet of Kenney-Herbert’s work, the more interesting facet, has been forgotten. Perkins discusses the hybrid cuisine the colonel developed by combining Indian ingredients, including spice, with British and European technique to create something refreshing and unique, a lost cuisine worthy of revival.
PPC 104 is available online from Prospect Books and on the shelf in the United States at Kitchen Arts & Letters in Manhattan.