18th Century Curry Recipe

January 14th 2022


I like food. In fact, I really, really like food. I have the waistline to prove it. So, when part of your job sometimes involves hunting down period and regional cookery for recipes that we can use as part of our engagement in our exhibits and even in our food outlets, I was very pleased to come across this recipe for a “currey” from Hannah Glasse’s “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy” published in 1751.

The Remaking Beamish project is carrying on apace and my stumbling across the recipe was very much to do with work we’re doing as part of that, namely the development of the Drover’s Tavern, in The 1820s Landscape, where our visitors will be able to sample an ale and maybe get a taste of some Georgian tavern cuisine. Now I’m not saying this dish will be on the menu, but I am fascinated about the origins of recipes and this early reference to “currey” got me wanting to find out more about a dish that most of us would assume was quite new but has actually been with us in one form or another for a while.

Follow the recipe below to make a “currey – the Indian way”!

Ingredients (feeds two people)

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of ground pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Cream (500ml)
  • Butter
  • Water
  • Fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped


Mix the turmeric, ginger, salt and pepper together and put aside. Fill a pan with enough water to cover the chicken breasts and bring to the boil. Once boiling, add the breasts and simmer for about five minutes.

Remove breasts from the water but keep the “broth”. Dice the onion and chicken then heat a heavy-bottomed pan and add about two ounces of butter. Add the onion and gently fry for about five minutes.

Turn up heat and add the chicken and fry for another three to four minutes, or until the chicken starts to brown. Sprinkle your spice mix over the chicken and stir to coat the chicken pieces. Add the “broth” back to the chicken, cover and gently simmer for about 20-25 minutes.

Remove lid. The broth should have reduced, but if it is still a little too wet, put back on the heat for a few minutes more. Add the cream to a consistency you are happy with and warm through but do not boil. Remove from the heat then add lemon juice, plate up, sprinkle the coriander on top and serve.

Plain boiled rice works well with this.