British Monks Find 200-Year-Old Curry Recipe

By Adam Campbell-Schmitt |

Photo Composite: © kot63 / sumnersgraphicsinc / Getty Images

The British love curry, so much so that it's become an adopted national dish for the country. And that love is not a just recent ramification of globalization, like America's love of pizza and sushi, but dates back all the way to Britain's colonial past. Hence when Benedictine monks at England's Downside Abbey (which I'll assume is the Abbey that Downton has beef with) were recently gifted a private book collection, they found a 1793 cookbook that includes a recipe for, you guessed it, chicken curry.

The 223-year-old cookbook was used in the kitchen at Begbrook House near Bristol and contains 142 handwritten recipes compiled by the family's cook. Included are recipes for outdated dishes like boiled calf's head and turtle soup, and more modernly useful tips like how to cure a ham. The book also has instructions for making the delightfully British-sounding Sally Lunn buns which call for an egg yolk glaze to be brushed on the bread with a feather. And while the Begbrook curry recipe is old, it's still not as old as the first known English-language curry recipe published in a popular cookbook 46 years prior. It looks like cooks in the Georgian era were more versatile than perhaps we give them credit for. I suppose they had to be, since it wasn't possible to order curry from Seamless via carrier pigeon.

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