The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.

NO.52
SPRING2017

The devil’s universal paste.

A distillation of the Anglo-Indian culinary idiom, this pungent paste pairs with just about anything savory, as Rhona Aitken realizes in The Memsahib’s Cookbook :

“Spread it on steaks and chops before you grill them; make little slits in fillets of fish or chicken breasts and fill with the paste; and a little in a casserole can make the dish very interesting. Venison concedes to its charms, and I have it on good authority that it is excellent on fried eggs.”

This devil’s combination of ineffably British elements could not have arisen outside the kitchens of the Raj.


  • Devil in a Pot 2 teaspoons anchovy essence or ½ teaspoon anchovy paste and 1½ teaspoons coconut or other vinegar ( see the Notes)
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne, more or less
  • 2 teaspoons chutney (any kind)
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard (like Colman’s)
  • 4 teaspoons neutral oil
  • a mashed pickled walnut (also see the Notes)
  • 2-3 teaspoons Worcestershire

Whisk everything together to emulsify the paste.

 

Notes:

- Anchovy essence is scarce in the United States but available at upmarket food shops in the United Kingdom. The substitution, however, works fine.

-The same goes for pickled walnuts but there is no genuine substitute for the sublime black blobs that look a lot like truffles. Your devil will not be the same if you puree some cornichons instead but it still will taste good. Myers of Keswick in Manhattan does carry pickled walnuts at a grossly inflated price. A saving grace; while additive, pickled walnuts may be hoarded for special occasions like a diner of boiled beef or a splurge on the finest English farmhouse Cheddar, but only by the most disciplined people.

-The recipes from The Memsahib’s Cookbook calls for “juice from a jar of chutney” but our chutneys never throw juice. Do yours? Many of the old Anglo-Indian as well as metropolitan British cookbooks call for it in a number of recipes too, so chutneys, at least some of them, must have been different back in the day.

-Your selection of chutney obviously will have an enormous impact on the nature of your devil; coriander, tomato or triple berry Bermuda onion chutney each would impart distinctly different notes to your devil. Colonel Kenney-Herbert might throw up his hands to reach for the redcurrant jelly instead.