Sunday, September 30, 2012

Great Curries of World War 2

Having been MIA for awhile, I feel as though I must assuage my guilt with a large post of multiple recipes. I decided to go with curry, a dish which found wide appeal in the military services of many nations in the 20th century. Easy to prepare, tasty, and capable of utilizing a wide variety of ingredients, curry was easily adapted to army cuisines.
There is some merit to the claim that the British Army is the father of curry as we know it today. As with many aspects of culinary history, the exact details are obscured through the passage of time. The modern versions of curry and curry powder are British adaptations of local Indian cuisine, originating in the 18th century with British soldiers stationed in India. Even the word “curry” is an Anglicized version of (depending on the source) a type of south Indian cuisine. The recipes and resulting spice mix dubbed “curry powder”, purportedly concocted specifically to cater to British tastes, were brought back to Britain. From there, curry spread throughout the British empire, to the USA, Japan and numerous other nations.

Curry, British Army, 1940-1944

US                               Metric                        Ingredients
28 oz                           700 g                           beef (boneless)
5 oz                             145 g                           onions
1 tbsp                          12 ml                           tomato paste
2.5 oz                          75 g                             flour
.35 oz                          9 g                               dried coconut
.65 oz                          18 g                             dried apple rings
1.25 oz                        35 g                             dripping
16 oz                           450 ml                         beef stock

1.      Soak the apple rings and coconut overnight in barely enough water to cover.
2.      Cut the beef into ½” (1.3 cm) pieces.
3.      Cut the onions, and apple rings into ¼” (0.6 cm) pieces.
4.      Heat a little oil in a pot. Add the onions and fry to a light golden color.
5.      Add the beef and cook until lightly browned.
6.      Add the curry powder and cook for 5 minutes.
7.      Add the flour and cook “to a sandy texture”.
8.      Add coconut, apple rings, tomato puree, boiling stock, bay leaf
9.      Bring to a boil and simmer for 1½ hours.
10.  Serve with boiled rice.

For the 1945 version, reduce the amount of beef to 18 ounces/510 grams (wartime shortages) and omit the coconut and tomato paste (more wartime shortages).

Curry, Australian Army, 1942-44

     This recipe for curry included chutney, “if available”: an indicator of wartime shortages. Use bottled or homemade chutney, to taste. The amounts of lemon juice, carrots, tomato and chutney could vary, according to what was available. Australian Army stock was made by simmering bones and meat scraps, covered with salted water, one ounce of salt to one gallon of water. Water in which vegetables were cooked was saved and added to stocks and soups.  
     Specimen menus for the Queensland Lines of Communications Area included curry and curried sausage as a part of the breakfast meal. Curried sausage was most likely prepared by substituting sausage for beef in the following recipe.   

US                               Metric                         Ingredients
20 oz                           570 g                           beef or mutton
4.5 oz                          125 g                           onions
3 oz                             80 g                             carrots
1 tbsp                          12 ml                           tomato paste
1 tsp                            4.5 g                            curry powder
1 each                          1 each                          apple
32 oz                           35 g                             sultanas (golden raisins)
16 fl oz                        475 ml                         meat stock
                                                                       juice of ½ lemon

1.      Peel the apples, onions and carrots.
2.      Grate carrots, cut the onions and apples into small pieces.
3.      Trim surplus fat from meat and cut into bite sized pieces.
4.      Place a little dripping (rendered beef fat) into a pot and cook the meat until browned on all sides.
5.      Add the rest of the ingredients, and enough stock to cover.
6.      Cover the pot and simmer for 2 to 3 hours.
7.      Serve with boiled potatoes or rice. 

Curry, Japanese Army, 1912(?)-1945

     In the latter part of the 19th century, the modernization and westernization of Japan was in full swing. Dietary habits underwent a drastic change as western cuisine was introduced. In 1872 the first curry recipe was published in Japan. Despite its comparative expense, curry soon became highly popular. In 1912 the recipe for Japanese curry was invented, and soon thereafter adopted by the Japanese Army.
     The Higashiya corporation was founded in 1923 to produce and market curry powder made in Japan. Prior to that, Japan imported curry powder produced by the C&B Corporation in Great Britain. In 1949 the company name of Higashiya was changed to S&B Foods Inc. S&B Foods still produces curry powder, available worldwide, and is recommended to add that touch of authenticity to Japanese Army curry.

US                  Metric             Ingredients
10 oz              280 g               beef, pork, mutton, poultry, shellfish
14 oz              400 g               potatoes
3 oz                80 g                 carrot
12 oz              320 g               onions
1.5 oz             40 g                 flour
0.7 oz             20 g                 lard, divided into two portions
.14 oz             4 g                   curry powder
48 fl oz           400 ml           water
to taste             to taste             salt

1.      Heat half of the lard in a small pan over low heat.
2.      Put the flour into the hot lard, and mix well.
3.      Add the curry powder and mix well.
4.      In a separate pot over medium-high heat, heat the other portion of lard until melted.
5.      Add the beef and a little of the onions and sauté until beef is lightly browned.
6.      Add water, bring to a boil, add the carrots, potatoes and rest of the onions.
7.      Reduce to a simmer, cook until vegetables are tender.
8.      Add the curry roux and mix in to thicken.
9.      Salt to taste

Serve with rice and barley (more on this coming in a later post).

Curry of Beef, US Army, 1928-1944

The US Army’s earlier version of curry was perhaps the simplest of military curries. The US Army also produced a recipe for curried rice, which consisted of mixing ½ tsp of curry powder (per 4 servings) with a little water and mixing it into the cooked rice. With the publication of Army Recipes in August 1944 the curried rice recipe was dropped, although earlier recipe manuals could still be utilized.

US                               Metric                         Ingredients

20 oz                           570 g                           beef,
.64 oz                          18 g                             flour
½ tsp                           2.5 g                            curry powder
to taste                         to taste                        salt and pepper

1.      Preheat oven to 200-250° F (95-120°C).
2.      Cut the beef into 1-inch cubes and place into an oven-proof pan.
3.      Cover with cold beef stock or water and season to taste with curry powder.
4.      Cook for 3 hours or until beef is tender.
5.      When nearly done, make a batter with the flour and a little water.
6.      Add the flour batter to the meat and thicken slightly.

Meat Curry, US Army 1944-1957

     In 1944 the US Army more than made up for its earlier shortcomings (some would call it over-reacting) in the realm of curry. The new recipe could utilize beef, lamb, pork, or ham; apples and onions were added, “a l’anglaise”. In addition to tripling the amount of curry powder, into the mix also went cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice.
     Please note that the recipe calls for meat that is pre-cooked. Meat cooked by any method, or leftover meat can be utilized. This recipe survived virtually unchanged until 1957, when the US Army changed the recipe to “Lamb Curry”, dropping the beef and pork options.

US                               Metric                       Ingredients
1¼ oz/5 tbsp                35 g                            flour
2½ oz/6 tbsp                75 g                            fat
10 fl oz                        300 ml                         evaporated milk*
10 fl oz                        300 ml                         water (for milk)*
1 tsp                            7 g                              salt  
1½ tsp                         7 g                              curry powder
pinch                           pinch                           red pepper
pinch                           pinch                           cinnamon
pinch                           pinch                           cloves, ground
pinch                           pinch                           nutmeg
pinch                           pinch                           allspice
2.5 oz                          75 g                            onions
4 oz                             115 g                          apples
16 oz                           450 g                          meat, cooked, 1-inch dice

*fluid 20 fluid ounces/600 ml fresh milk may be substituted for the evaporated milk and water.

1.      Heat half of the fat in a pan, mix in the flour and stir until smooth.
2.      Mix the milk and water together in a separate pan and heat to a simmer
3.      Add the milk to the flour mixture, heat to boiling, and boil for 3 minutes while stirring constantly.
4.      Remove from heat or maintain over low heat, stirring occasionally.
5.      In a separate pan, mix the remaining fat, salt, pepper and spices together.
6.      Add onions, apple and meat.
7.      Cover and heat to boiling; reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.
8.      Add the meat mixture to the heated white sauce.
9.      Serve with boiled rice.

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