19th Century Curry Sandwiches

18th Century Indian Sandwich Recipe

It’s hard to resist making a recipe that looks really weird on paper. This is from ‘The Road to Vindaloo, Curry Cooks and Curry Books‘ by David Burnett and Helen Saberi, which is a charming little book crammed with recipes collected from various sources, spanning several centuries. There are two sandwich recipes in it, both equally as baffling. I hope you will understand that I simply had to know what the combination of hard-boiled egg yolk, butter, curry powder, anchovy and tarragon vinegar tasted like as a sandwich spread. You don’t? Weird. I’ll tell you anyway. I just need to think about how to say it. Um. Okay so I can see what they were trying to do here, which was make something with a hella shitload of umami. It is definitely not lacking in that respect. I’d even go so far as to say that it was rather nice, once I got over the whole bright orange mush thing. I was going to bust out that almost-cliché about not being able to taste the anchovies and them just being a seasoning but to be honest they’re fairly obvious. The egg and curry powder works as you’d expect and so does the tarragon; just think of fennel seeds in a curry and you’ll get the idea. It’s remarkably balanced, actually. Crikey, I’m talking myself round. The cucumber slices are my addition; the crisp freshness is very welcome. I also decided to cut them into dainty fingers due to the erm, intensity of the paste.

I want you to make these sandwiches, and it annoys me that you probably won’t. No-one has the cahoonas to make a sandwich spread like this any more. It deserves to be served.

Curry Sandwiches by someone called Theodore Francis Garrett (from The Road to Vindaloo, by David Burnett and Helen Saberi, Prospect Books, 2008)

3 hard boiled eggs
1 oz butter, plus extra for spreading if desired
1 teaspoon curry powder
Anchovy (no quantity specified so I used 2 fillets)
Tarragon vinegar (again no quantity specified so use those buds)
Salt to taste
White bread, thinly sliced
Cucumber slices (my addition)

In a pestle and mortar, mush up the egg yolks only with the butter, curry powder, anchovy and salt if desired. Gradually work in a little tarragon vinegar. Butter some bread (I think this was perhaps overkill considering the butter in the paste but knock yourself out) and spread this delightful concoction over it. Layer with cucumber slices. Sandwich with the other slice of bread, remove the crusts, cut into fingers and serve.

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16 thoughts on “19th Century Curry Sandwiches

  1. I make refreshments for my local historical society meetings. I try to relate them to the topic each month. This month’s topic is the raid at Harper’s Ferry just before the start of the civil war.. So I’m looking for things that might have been served in Virginia in 1859. I think that these will be perfect. I also love to challenge people with unusual foods. So don’t bemoan your thought that noone will make these. I’m happy that I found the recipe and I will definitely make them. Thank you, Kim Klickna

  2. Wow, I’ve just made myself one, I didn’t have any Tarragon vinegar but did have some bearnaise left over from earlier in the week so used this instead of the butter and vinegar. There’s no chance of me falling asleep this afternoon, my mouth is dancing a fandango! The cucumber is certainly needed.
    Thanks for the challenge, I loved it.

  3. This seems like the sort of thing that would be served as a savoury at the end of the meal, or with an aperitif, rather than a tea sandwich. And I am OK with that. I like anchoiade and gentlemen’s relish, so I reckon I would like this.

    1. I think it would be plain weird at the END of a meal to be honest. They’re so strongly flavoured, I think they are the meal, start, middle and end.

  4. I’ll try it! It doesn’t sound too dissimilar to the curried egg sandwiches I grew up on and still eat – hard-boiled eggs, mayo and fluorescent curry powder mashed together into a lumpy paste, then stuck between two slices of white bread.

  5. I can see how this can/would work. Would even try it, but have no tarragon vinegar.

    And how’s the book? Would you recommend it? Ta.

    1. The book is fabulous! I would highly recommend it. Also, just mush a few leaves of tarragon in and add a splash of vinegar…crude but you’ll get the idea.


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