Savour The Flavours Of This Historic Anglo-Indian Dish From Pre-Independence Times; Recipe Inside

by Tejashee Kashyap
Savour The Flavours Of This Historic Anglo-Indian Dish From Pre-Independence Times; Recipe Inside

The culinary landscape of India is a kaleidoscope of flavours and influences, shaped over centuries of cultural exchange and historical events. One such culinary gem with a fascinating past is Railway Lamb (Mutton) Curry. A dish born during the British colonial era in India, this sumptuous preparation holds a special place even now.

This Dish Is A Gastronomic Legacy Of Colonial India

Image credits: Canva

The advent of railways, which the British introduced in the mid-19th century, played a crucial role in shaping modern India. The British fondness for lamb, combined with the ubiquity of Indian spices, prompted chefs on the railways to experiment with a dish that would cater to both British and Indian palates. Drawing inspiration from traditional Indian curries and British lamb stews, ‘Railway Lamb Curry’ was born.

Another story goes as how a drunken English officer once entered the kitchen of a train and tried some of the mutton. He went on to unwittingly create a culinary legend, the railway mutton curry, by asking the cooks to tone it down a bit.

“Relevance goes back to the British era with the gradual invention and development of Anglo-Indian cuisine by Indian cooks who used to tweak Indian recipes to make them milder for the colonials. This recipe is a great example of a balance between English and Indian spices with the addition of coconut milk to make it milder and the addition of an acidic base to strengthen the shelf life for long-distance travel in trains,” explains Chef Gagandeep Bedi, Director of Culinary, Roseate Hotels & Resorts.

Also Read: Exploring Culinary Exchange: 4 Things Britishers Borrowed From Indian Cuisine

How To Cook This Lamb (Mutton) Curry

Image credits: Canva

While the essence of Railway Lamb Curry remains consistent, regional adaptations have emerged over time. Different states in India have infused their unique local flavours into the preparation, resulting in delightful variations.

Here’s the recipe to cook the classical version of this dish shared by Chef Bedi –


  • 1 kg mutton curry cut pieces
  • 2 potatoes
  • 180gm fresh tomato puree
  • 220gms chopped onions
  • 15gms ginger and garlic paste
  • 4-5 green cardamoms
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp railway mutton spice powder
  •  1/2 cup mustard oil
  •  1  Lime
  • 30ml fresh coconut milk
  • salt to taste

Railway mutton spice powder:

  • 3 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp black peppercorns
  •  8 nos dry red chillies
  •  1/2 florets of mace
  • Dry roast and grind


  •  Wash mutton and marinate with ginger garlic, salt and turmeric. Keep it aside for 3-4 hours
  •  Cut potatoes into half and fry them until golden on slow flame.
  • Heat oil in a pan. Add bay leaves, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon.
  •  Add onion and cook till golden brown.
  • Add the marinated mutton and braise it for a good half an hour.
  • Add the spice mix and cook for another 5 mins
  • Now add tomato puree and cook further over a low flame, while stirring occasionally, till oil starts to separate from the masala.
  • Add warm water to make a thin gravy and cook until the mutton gets 90% cooked
  • Add the fried potatoes, coconut milk and continue to cook over a low flame till the mutton is tender.
  • The consistency of the mutton curry should neither be too thin nor too thick. Finish with a squeeze of lime juice
  • Check the final seasoning and serve with steamed rice.

So, when are you cooking Railway Lamb Curry?

Cover image credits: Canva