We spoke to Bridget White-Kumar about her food writing journey.
Bridget White-Kumar is a cookbook author and independent food consultant and trainer in Colonial Anglo-Indian Cuisine at Bangalore. She has authored eight recipe books on Anglo-Indian Cuisine and has put in a lot of effort to revive the old forgotten dishes of the Colonial British Raj Era. One of her books Anglo_indian Cusine – A Legacy of Flavours from the Past was selected as ‘Winner from India’ under the Best Culinary History Book by Gourmand International Spain, Gourmand World Cook Books Awards, 2012. She also conducts cooking training workshops for staff at large hospitality houses like J W Marriot, The Oberoi Mumbai, the Taj Connemara Chennai, etc,
Her repertoire covers a wide selection of colonial dishes sand she explains the history and evolution of Anglo-Indian Cuisine and how each dish got its special moniker. She is always ready to share information and talk about recipes and food. You can email her at email@example.com and check out her websites- www.bridget-white-kumar.com and www.anglo-indianfood.com.
Your book Anglo-Indian Cuisine- A Legacy of Flavours from the Past won the best culinary history book prize by Gourmand International Spain, Gourmand World Cook Books Award in the India category. Tell us about that experience.
I was both surprised and delighted when my book won the Best Culinary History Book from India Award in the year 2012. This award is like the Oscars for Cook Book Writers and books from all over the world enter the competition. It was indeed an honor to win it under the Best Culinary History Book category based on my account of the history and evolution of Colonial Anglo-Indian Cuisine. The awards were presented at a gala function in the Louvre in Paris in February 2013.
Your area of interest lies primarily with Anglo-Indian cuisine-how did you go about collecting recipes for this specific cuisine?
I am from the Anglo-Indian Community and grew up with this cuisine. I was always interested in cooking and I had a lot of handwritten recipes and old printed recipe books that my mother and aunts gave me. These old recipes were just written offhand with no specific quantities for the ingredients, etc. Moreover, many of the old dishes that were cooked by the older generation were becoming extinct as the younger generation was not interested in cooking them. It, therefore, became my passion to record these recipes and preserve them for posterity. I have been bringing out my self-published recipe books since the year 2014.
Tell us about the colonial influences on Anglo-Indian cuisine.
Anglo-Indian cuisine evolved over many hundred years as a result of reinventing and reinterpreting the quintessentially western cuisine by assimilating and amalgamating ingredients and cooking techniques from all over the Indian subcontinent. Thus, a completely new contemporary cuisine that was truly ‘Anglo’ and ‘Indian’ in nature came into existence. This cuisine was neither too bland nor too spicy, but had a distinctive flavor of its own. It became a direct reflection of the multicultural and hybrid heritage of the new colonial population.
Every European invasion left behind their legacy in Anglo-Indian Cuisine. It can be rightly said that Anglo-Indian Cuisine was the first example of Fusion Food in India. Many of the dishes have a unique history behind their existence. There is a certain glamour about Anglo-Indian cuisine with its quaint names like Railway Lamb or Mutton Curry, The Dak Bungalow Curry, Grandma’s Country Captain Chicken, Colonel Standhurst’s Beef Curry, Veal Country Captain, Bengal Lancer’s Shrimp Curry, Pork Bhooni, Chicken/Meat Jalfrezie, Devil Pork Curry, etc. All these dishes were a direct throwback to the conditions prevailing at the time of the Raj!
Describe your book Vegetarian Delicacies.
The book Vegetarian Delicacies is an Anglicised Vegetarian Recipe Books. I have included different recipes for Vegetarian Starters, Soups, Curries, Salads and Bakes. There are no mainstream veg recipes that are normally found in Indian cookbooks.
How do you keep track of your recipes – do you keep tweaking them or do you follow a standard method?
I believe in maintaining the authenticity of every recipe and hence I never tweak or make changes just to suit others palates. My recipes are those that have stood the test of time and endured over generations.
What advice do you have for writers who want to write and sell cookbooks?
Writing a recipe book isn’t easy. A lot of hard work goes into it since one has to get the recipe right after many, many trials and errors. Once a recipe is written, it will be the guide to be followed by many. Only when one has mastered the dish, can a foolproof recipe be written.
You’ve also written a book called Kolar Gold Fields- Down Memory Lane. What inspired you to write a memoir?
The Kolar Gold Fields of today is very, very different from the KGF of my childhood. I wanted to preserve for posterity a period of history when I was growing up in KGF as a young Anglo-Indian child. That period was the golden period of history where we had the influences of the best of old Colonial India and the new emerging and evolving India.
Describe your experience with self-publishing.
I have self-published eight cookbooks and a book of memoirs on KGF. Self-publishing isn’t easy as it involves a lot of work and investment. However, it’s very rewarding as it gives one the freedom to write and be creative and there’s no fear of an editor cutting out anything from the manuscript. It’s very rewarding to see one’s efforts in print.
Your favorite dish?
COLONIAL PEPPER LAMB CHOPS
Here’s the recipe:
A Colonial Classic – Succulent tender Lamb Chops, marinated in a pepper – garlic sauce
Preparation Time approx 1 hour
1kg either lamb or Mutton Chops
1teaspoon chopped ginger
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 large onions sliced fine
2 or 3 green chilies sliced lengthwise
3 tablespoons oil
3 or 4 teaspoons fresh ground pepper or pepper powder
Salt to taste
Marinate the Chops with the pepper powder, vinegar and salt for about 30 minutes. Heat oil in a large pan and sauté the onions and green chilies for a few minutes. Add the chopped ginger and garlic and fry for about 3 minutes. Now add the marinated chops and mix well. Add sufficient water and cook till the Chops are tender and soft and the gravy dries up. Garnish with onion rings.
Thank you Bridget! We wish you all the best with your culinary adventure….