Anglo Indians are a product of the 300 years of British rule in India.. Often referred to as a community without a country, the Braganzas, D’Costas and D’Souzas kept the Railways, Post Offices, Schools and Bakeries to name but a few services going and formed an integral part of our childhoods in Calcutta.. Anglo Indian food too, is a fantastic combination of Indian and English cuisine and dishes such as Panteras, Pepper Water or Ding Ding – (dried meat in the Sun) and of course “patties” are a super addition to any table.
A patty is a different world from a pasty .. it is made of beautifully flaky butter puff pastry which then encases a spicy meat or cheese filling… My dad speaks of a world where local English or Anglo Indian housewives would bake patties, biscuits and pastries and these would be handed to the “cake man” – Muslim vendors who would then put them into a large steel trunk. The trunk would be carefully carried on his head and the wares hawked from door to door where traftiisl Indian housewives who didn’t bake would buy these. When I was briefly in a predominantly Anglo Indian boarding school in Calcutta, the “cake man” would be allowed in at lunchtime.. a thin dark man wearing a white kurta (long shirt) on top of white pyjamas.. He arrived with his trunk on his head and was much in demand .. surrounded by screaming girls, eager to hand him a precious coin in return for a patty or a pink iced square pastry. As a boarder I had to be mostly content with school lunches but on the occasional days that I spent my meagre funds, I usually bought a pastry as dessert rather than a spicy patty!
The British, the cake man and those Anglo Indian housewives may have long gone but their legacy lives on in India, through the humble patty.
Even today, no self respecting bakery, club menu or tea time is complete without “patties” be it chicken, mutton, or cheese! Accompanied by fresh sandwiches, amazing pastries and that all important cup of Darjeeling tea or cold(iced) coffee it is for me the true integration of cultures and of differing worlds…
I usually make prawn patties as that’s what dad asks for when he is here.. Today I’m using Sunday’s left over curry and making mutton patties… May even pack them for Mahera’s lunch tomorrow..
#surreycaterer #angloindianfood #muttonpatty #leftovers