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Colonel Arthur Robert Kenney-Herbert’s 1891 ‘Ceylon’ curry of shrimp & cucumber. 

A remarkable marriage of subtle flavor, this classic Anglo-Indian curry sacrifices heat to showcase the shrimp and cucumber. The great Kenney-Herbert describes it “as a species of fricassée , rich with the nutty juice of cocoanut, and very delicately flavoured with mild condiments. It ought to be by no means peppery or hot, though thin strips of red and green chilli-skin or capsicum may be associated with it.” Four silken servings with rice.

  • 2 peeled, trimmed and seeded cucumbers cut into 1 by 2 inch hunks or something similar
  • 4 oz unsalted butter
  • a big sweet onion (like Vidalia) sliced intcucumbers.jpg o the thinnest crescents
  • 2 Tablespoons flour (preferably Wondra)
  • 4 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon mace or nutmeg
  • salt
  • a 12 oz can coconut milk, more or less
  • about 1 cup shrimp stock
  • 1 Tablespoon ginger
  • juice of ½ lemon, more or less
  • 1½ to 2 lb shrimp


  1. Blanch and drain the cucumber.
  2. Melt the butter over medium heat until it just turns the palest gold, then add the flour, turmeric, sugar, mace or nutmeg and salt.
  3. Slowly add the coconut milk to the curry mixture followed by the shrimp stock.
  4. Add the ginger to the sauce and simmer it until it thickens to your liking.
  5. Add the lemon juice and then the shrimp to the sauce and cook until they just color and curl; it will not take long.
  6. Serve the curry hot with rice.


-The colonel recommends a number of other combinations for use in his Ceylon curry, including crab with zucchini. He also recommends chicken in the company either of the cucumber or zucchini.

-The bfia version of the colonel’s Ceylon curry borrows the nutmeg or mace from an acolyte of his, Sir Francis Colchester-Wemyss. Kenney-Herbert himself calls for a little cinnamon and clove along with garlic.

-As he says, “[c]oriander-seed, cumin-seed, cardamoms, fenugreek, chilli powder, poppy-seed, &c, ought, on no account, to be used.”