Rumour has it that about 80 years ago a drunken British officer stumbled into the opulent restaurant car of an express train out of Bombay looking for a hearty late night snack. Bored with offerings of cold roast duck or fish mayonnaise, he insisted the chefs produce him something exciting but not too hot.
A bit nervous, one of the chefs decided to try and cool down the spicy mutton curry they had on board by simmering with yoghurt. The officer was so impressed with his midnight feast he went and fetched his colleagues.
And the Railway Mutton Curry was born.
Since then many variations of the iconic dish have been served from street stalls to plush palaces. But at Delhi Grill we tried to get back to the dish that might have been served on the Frontier Mail train that ran from Bombay to Peshawar via Amritsar. Today that train is called the Golden Temple Mail and has to terminate at Amritsar (the rest of the old journey is pretty scary now!). But, sadly, the legendary restaurant car is no more.
So we’ve spent weeks researching, testing and tweaking our Railway Lamb Curry. And we think we’ve created something close to the original.
We use lamb pieces on the bone to add flavour, and marinate overnight in ginger, garlic, chilli and spices. We then slow-cook the lamb with potatoes in a tarka of desi ghee, onions, tomatoes, chillis and tamarind. The spices, chillis and tamarind were used to preserve the dish for the long journey ahead to the Afghan border.
Just before serving we add a couple of heaped tablespoons of yoghurt. This was preferred on journeys to the north – if you were heading south out of Bombay they were more likely to use coconut milk.
The result is a dish that is bursting with spice but calmed by the yoghurt. And the tamarind adds a great zesty tang. We can see why “officer Sahib” was so impressed.
Our authentic Railway Lamb Curry is on our specials board from March 7th. Come and try it for yourself.