Out of India

An Indian-style curry dinner from the pages of a 1961 French cookery book. The china is a mix of 1970s Japanese porcelain and late-19th-century Limoges. The place mats, made by Lady Clare and bought at Goodwill, depict landmarks of London.

I have never been to India though it seems everybody else I know has, from Delhi to Simla to Goa and beyond. Two of our dearest friends lived in India for years, and one day we hope to emulate them. Until we find ourselves flush with funds, however, it looks like the closest my family and I will get to that storied subcontinent is when we make curry.

We came across an Indian-style lamb curry in La Cuisine de France by Mapie de Toulouse-Lautrec (Orion, 1961), and it was terrifically easy to make. Lovers of Indian cuisine, take note: It was not authentic, being more of a denatured Eisenhower-era variation, a sort of safe curry for fearful palettes. Nonetheless it was enjoyable, though I would frankly add a few more tablespoons of curry powder to up the Indian ante. Our daughter, in particular, found the individual toppings (chutney, slivered almonds, et cetera) a lot of fun.


SOURCE: La Cuisine de France by Mapie de Toulouse-Lautrec (Orion, 1961)



5 tablespoons butter

2-1/2 pounds lamb or mutton neck meat, cut for stew

5 tablespoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon allspice

2 bananas, peeled and cut into large pieces

2 apples, peeled and cut into quarters or eighths

4 tablespoons slivered almonds

4 tablespoons seedless raisins

1/2 cup orange marmalade

Chutney sauce



Heat the butter in a deep heavy pan until frothy. Add the meat and cook over a low fire until the meat is slightly cooked on all sides. The meat must not brown.

Add the curry powder, allspice, and a pinch or two of salt to 3 cups of water, mix thoroughly, and pour over the meat. Add the bananas and the apples. Cover and simmer for at least 2 hours. If the sauce thickens too much, add water.

Serve very hot with boiled rice, and in little side dishes serve the slivered almonds, raisins, orange marmalade, and chutney sauce.

Our recent Indian-curry dinner, served on Bell Flower by Fine China of Japan, a 1970s pattern of which I'm not fond. And, yes, I drink Champagne with almost everything.


7 comments on “Out of India

  1. egadfly says:

    I’d just like to say, for what it’s worth, that I get tremendous enjoyment from reading this blog.


  2. french girl cooking says:

    5 tablespoons butter? You want to make exploding up our cholesterol level and killing your fascinated readers?
    Isn’t lamb fat enough? Just a spoon oil for cooking the meat on all sides !
    For the sauce, instead water, try with one big glas of coconut milk. Some porto is always welcome with lamb and curry and/or a freeshly-squeezed orange juice (if you don’t want absolutly —and I am approve it— to respect the authentic way of India cooking). Interpretation is always more delicious than closed tradition.
    Mapie wasn’t a persone to follow blindly in the kitchen.
    When is coming our surgeon’s leg of lamb?

    • Marie Odile! I am not advocating eating like this every night. And your suggestion re olive oil is fine. I’m not a fanatic about calories if they are consumed with moderation and due thought. I often find the richness of the food from long ago ensures one eats smaller portions, since one gets full faster. The reason I post these recipes is to taste what people ate years ago, not necessarily to improve upon it or make extreme adjustments. Surgeon’s leb of lamb is coming up soon!

  3. Rebecca James says:

    Are those chappatis?

  4. french girl cooking says:

    You reassure me, dear aesthete, but I’m old enough to remember what we ate long ago. And it was generally less fat that the mapies’s recipes. I believe in progress in the kitchen and try not to do the same mistakes than my grandmothers even they lived each 101 years (my very good and charming one) and 108 years (my very bad and stupid other). I remember a “paté lorrain” after eating it, we could’nt stand up out of our chair. Anyway be sure that your passion of taste of any form and any time touchs me. And I’m always waiting your next recipe. I hope that the surgeon’s leg lamb will be your “chef d’oeuvre”. (masterpiece —I translate for your readers, but I’m sure you speak a perfect french)

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