Some Liked It ‘Hot’ In Victorian Skidby

‘Eleanor Grantham’s Recipe Book’ 1890 (archive-ref DDX1494/1)

Today, the Indian Curry is a national favourite in the British cuisine.  Whether it be a korma, tikka masala, or vindaloo, many of us can think of nothing better to have for a Saturday night takeaway.  It’s one of those things that seem to have been around in our culture for so long that we can’t imagine what it would be like without it. 

At East Riding Archives we’ve uncovered what appears to be the earliest evidence of curry-eating in East Yorkshire, going back to Skidby in 1890, at a time when this meal had still to make its way to the top of our menus.

The oldest known curry recipe in East Yorkshire (Eleanor Grantham, Skidby, 1890. archive-ref DDX1494/1)

Tucked away inside the pages of former Skidby resident Eleanor Grantham’s recipe book are a set of brief and simple instructions for making ‘curry’.  The recipe is actually very similar to something we might have today, though perhaps a bit simpler, and its key ingredient is, of course, the curry powder. 

The exact ingredients of the curry powder are unknown.

Exactly what was in this curry powder would have depended on what was available to people in East Yorkshire at that time, and with spices being brought over on the ships from colonial India, one can imagine that these curries were more similar to authentic Indian cuisine than some of the milder versions that have since been developed in this country.

In other words, it would probably have ‘blown your head off’!

Nationally, we know that the first recipe for Indian style curry was published in 1747, but as far as the evidence is concerned it would seem that our curry-eating heritage in East Yorkshire begins in 1890.  Realistically, we were probably eating it much earlier than that, but this is currently the oldest record we can find.

This 19th Century version of curry was unlikley to have been mild!

Eleanor Grantham’s ‘Curry’ is now available on our Recipes page, or you can get a full transcript here.

If you think you’ve got an older curry recipe for East Yorkshire, let us know!

By Sam Bartle

Digital Archivist/Editor

Twitter: @bartle_sam

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