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A Scottish curry for chicken or rabbit.

The original recipe refers only to rabbit but chicken now is easier to find and works equally well. This characteristic Scottish curry is unusual in its use of bacon, mushroom powder and flour to thicken, things nobody on the Indian subcontinent would have considered for a curry. The origin of the recipe is unclear. While David Burton and Helen Saberi include in the section of their delightful Road to Vindaloo on the fictitious Meg Dods as ‘Scots Rabbit Curry,’ it does not, in fact, appear in ‘her’ raucous cookbook, the Cook and Housewife’s Manual from 1829. No matter; they have done us a big favor by publishing it at all. For four.

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 oz bacon cut into ½ inch cubes
  • a chicken cut into 10 pieces plus the backbone (cut each breast in half crosswise)
  • about 1½ cups onion sliced into thin crescents
  • Rabbit_hiding199.jpg2 Tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 Tablespoon flour (preferably Wondra)
  • 1½ cups chicken stock
  • about a dozen tiny pearl onions
  • 1 Tablespoon porcini flour (see the Notes)
  • possibly some cayenne depending on the heat of your curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • juice of ½ lemon

  1. Melt the butter and brown the bacon in a heavy skillet big enough to hold the chicken (or rabbit) pieces in a single layer: Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon.
  2. Increase the heat to high, brown the chicken and remove it in turn.
  3. Reduce the heat back to medium low and cook the onions until they soften
  4. Stir the curry powder and flour into the onions followed by the stock, little onions, porcini flour, chicken and bacon.
  5. Bring the curry to a boil, reduce it to a simmer and add the optional cayenne and the turmeric.
  6. Simmer the curry for about half an hour until the chicken is done, stir in the lemon juice and serve it up with rice and chutneys.



-D’Artagnan produces porcini flour but it can be hard to find. It is, however, easy to make your own mushroom powder by simply grinding any kind of dried mushroom in a food processor or spice mill.

-Bird’s Eye frozen pearl onions represent one of a busy cook’s best friends.

-It is best to use chicken on the bone but you need not use a whole chicken if you prefer only dark or white meat. Just substitute eight thighs or four breasts cut in half.

-The original recipe does not specify lemon juice but rather “some acid [for instance, tamarid or lime juice]” (brackets in original) and then as an alternative rather than addition to the turmeric. Sound enough advice.

-It goes on to provide more good advice:

“Fresh coco-nut is an excellent ingredient in mild curries. Rasp and stew it the whole time: we do not like green vegetables in curries though they are sometimes used. Mushrooms are an enrichment, celery is good, and onion indispensible.”

-If using mushrooms, dump them into the curry following the stock at Step 4; if celery, soften it with the onion at Step 3.