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A Scottish Chef

Harvey Day curry book from the fities and sixties

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I stumbled across a very old book called 'The Complete Book of Curries' today in a charity shop and I bought it for the princely sum of £0.19.

The author is Harvey Day and I wondered if he or his writing is known to anyone here?

The book - a compendium of five individual books dedicated to curries around the world - is an absolute delight. Not least because of his recipe offerings which strike an odd balance between authenticity and a very olde fashioned, almost quaint Englishness. So quaint in fact, that Day sees fit throughout the book to publish the addresses of those who helped him with the book. Presumably so people could write to them and offer their own thanks. The first of these five books was published by Kaye & Ward in 1958 in Britain.

I'm not even certain about the authenticity of the recipes published. I'm as sure as can be that no one would have been able to challenge Day's assertions/recipes as I am completely unaware of other books on this subject from that time. Certainly none that I have come across.

There are quite fantastic quotes in the book which he uses to highlight his thoughts on food. Although this first quote itself is not about curries, he used it to indicate his feelings about those who found curries too much of a culinary challenge to enjoy. It will also give you an indication of the tenor he adopts throughout the book.

"People who know nothing about cheeses reel away from Camembert,

Roquefort, and Stilton because the plebeian proboscis is not

equipped to differentiate between the sordid and the sublime."

Harvey Day

Perhaps it's the time elapsed since first publication that makes it such a glorious read, but some of it is also hilarious. For example;

"Because curries are hot, they are not therefore the work of the Devil."

Harvey Day

Each book has a small preface and in these Day offers up his thoughts on the wonder of curries and the benefit of the spices used. The preface to the second book returns again to his ideas about those unable to enjoy curries. I think Mr Finch and Mr Majumdar will enjoy this one in particular. Fantastically, he said;

"Generally speaking, the English don't make good cooks. Not because the culinary art is beyond them, for when the English turn their hands to anything, there are few of any race who excel them. Except, perhaps, the Scots."

Harvey Day

I'd love to post some of these recipes if I can, as I can't offer you a source where to find the book. It's long out of print and I could not find it available even through second hand sellers on the internet.

If I can't - and I'm assuming someone will tell me if this is not permissible - I'd still love to ask many questions about the recipes and methods he writes of in the book. For example, Suvir, IndiaGirl or Monica, was mustard oil commonly used in Indian cooking to preserve and protect meats due to the hot climate?

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Is this the same chap ( I think it is ) who produced a dictionary of the occult and was a collector of the works of Austin Spare?

If so a very weird chap indeed

S

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I think so. When I searched for Harvey Day on Amazon it returned all sorts of out of print books about the occult, yoga, spirituality and Curries.

I'm not sure I get the link :biggrin:

Simon: You are in publishing - is it ok to post recipes from books long out of print? Do these works ever become public domain? I can't even find the publisher - Kaye & Ward Ltd London - anywhere.

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Copyright in the UK lasts 75 years after the death of the author, but if the publisher and the book are defunct, it is porbably OK. I suspect though, if he dabbled in the black arts he may come back and turn you into a newt ( mind you being a jock you are probably pissed as one by now anyway :biggrin: )

S

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I have the Harvey Day book, although I haven't glanced at it in years. I have a feeling I bought it new, some 20 odd years ago. Can't lay my hands on it right now and am more preoccupied with turning a mixture of garlic, shallots, lemon grass, blachan and candlenuts into a paste.

But I certainly have a number of Indian cookbooks of that vintage or older on my shelves. Just grabbed one by E.P. Veeraswamy, presumably the guy who started the UK's first Indian restaurant in London. It is called 'Indian Cookery for use in all countries', originally published in 1936, my edition dated 1964.

I'll post more anon when my hands are free.

v

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Oh, and I also have a few going further back, to 19th & early 20th century colonial Indian type things. A particularly good author was Col. Kenney-Herbert aka Wyvern. Don't know if that kind of thing gets you going.

v

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ScottishChef. I've never heard of this author before but this book sounds *truly* entertaining. Also, I though it was okay to post recipes as long as they are not posted verbatim. I mean, I've posted recipes from the incomparable Joyce Westrip on eGullet (with attribution, of course). Was that wrong?

:(

Although slightly OT. I share a similar story - I am immensely enjoying a book I bought a couple of days ago in a used bookstore. It is called:

The Art of Cuisine

Henri de Toulouse Lautrec and Maurice Joyant

First published in 1966 (which is the edition I have)

It has some gorgeous menus and color plates by Toulouse-Lautrec and the recipes are wonderfully entertaining. Example:

Squirrels

Ecureuils

Having killed some squirrels in autumn, skin them the same day and empty them. Roll them up in a piece of lard and let them brown wth some good quality butter in a copper saucepan....

or

The chapter about meat and poultry is entitled:

About Certain Domestic Animals

De Quelques Animaux Domestiques

I'll post more if the recipe thing gets clarified .... I'm worried about that.

About your mustard oil question. As far as I know, mustard oil is commonly used in cooking in the North East of India, like Bengal (Simon?). The Indian word is "sarsoan" and it has a very strong distinct flavor - the first and only time I had an entire meal cooked in mustard oil was in a city called Siliguri and I must confess to not liking it. Dishes made from mustard greens on the other hand, are to die for. I wonder how I would feel about it now. I've never heard of the meat explanation but then I grew up in a vegetarian family in Bombay. The only use we made of mustard oil was pickles.

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another thread back from the dead-must be harvey day channeling..

glancing through a copy and struck by the pic. of a'mixed vegetable curry'.bears an uncanny resemblance to a 'mixed grill' !

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About your mustard oil question. As far as I know, mustard oil is commonly used in cooking in the North East of India, like Bengal (Simon?). The Indian word is "sarsoan" and it has a very strong distinct flavor - the first and only time I had an entire meal cooked in mustard oil was in a city called Siliguri and I must confess to not liking it. Dishes made from mustard greens on the other hand, are to die for. I wonder how I would feel about it now. I've never heard of the meat explanation but then I grew up in a vegetarian family in Bombay. The only use we made of mustard oil was pickles.

Mustard oil has a reputation for the ability to preserve anything cooked in it (for a time at least). That is why it is the most popular choice for pickles. I have had a southern meat pickle before and I know of the Punjabi chicken pickle. I would be curious as well to know more....

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Hi Edward,

That book sounds like a real find.

Yes mustard oil is used extensively in North India, my first morning in my new home after I got married I was made aware of this fact. There was a Puja that morning and and on all auspicious days in my husbands famly (See thread on pahari Food) they make Pakoris which are Black lentil fritters that are deep fried in mustard oil. It was a very cold winter day and Mustard oil calls for being heated to Smoking before cooking in. Well the pungent smell carried up to m room ad I almost gagged!

I am now of course much recociled to it. I also fid tat greens like Musstard greens and spich when cooked in Mustard oil taste different.

The base oil in all their pickles is also mustard oil. Will post more on that later.

Rushina

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Hello,

It's true, mustard oil just about kills some people. My closest friend is Bengali and for a few years he had a Gujarati for a roommate. Though they got along great, it was WAR when it came to culinary matters. He would be up at 6 am frying fish eggs in mustard oil and his roommate would wake thinking there had been a biological attack. One time he even thought the smell of the mustard oil was an alarm clock ! :blink:

Incidently, Australia has bred a variety of mustard seed, used for oil production, that is almost totally free of the controversial erucic acid. That is the chemical present in the oil that has caused the goverments of the US and Canada to label mustard oil "FOR MASSAGE USE ONLY". (It never stopped me). It is now available in the US under a few different brand names. I bought the one from Naturally by Nature. It is of excellent quality. I especially like it in its raw state on fish, drizzled over masoor dal, or in aloo bharta.


Edited by Edward (log)

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Well is it likely anyone still contributes to this thread or has it gone for ever?

I was attracted to the discussion here about Harvey Day's Book of Curries which I found a copy of around 10 years ago and wondered if anyone took this conversation any further after 2003.

 

The book has some really authentic Indian curry recipes and makes entertaining reading.

A lot of Indian recipe books published since the days of the Harvey Day book have lifted recipes from it and published them as their own which is par for the course i suppose.  I'm just testing the water here to see if anyone is still following this thread.

Plado (SW England)

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@Plado, welcome to eGullet!  

 

Please feel free to contribute to and revive this topic.  Many members have joined since the last post, and may well be interested in joining the conversation. What are some of your favorite curries from this book?  Do you have any particularly fine turns of phrase from the entertaining writing that you'd like to share?

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On 20/11/2016 at 4:26 AM, Smithy said:

@Plado, welcome to eGullet!  

 

Please feel free to contribute to and revive this topic.  Many members have joined since the last post, and may well be interested in joining the conversation. What are some of your favorite curries from this book?  Do you have any particularly fine turns of phrase from the entertaining writing that you'd like to share?

Well I think there is only one recipe I particularly bought the book for and that's the Lamb or Beef Curry because some 55 years ago one of my schoolfriends by the name of Godfrey became interested in cooking when his mother ran off with another man!  He was welcomed into our household regularly and he was only 13 when he went to London 20 miles on the train and found all the spices he needed to make a Lamb Curry - and then offered to come to our house and make the curry to demonstrate to my mother how to make a real Indian curry.  He wasn't Indian but loved curry.  It took him 4 hours to prepare and we were totally hooked from that moment on.

I lost touch with him after we left the Greater London area and moved to Dorset in 1966 and then found him again on the internet around 2003 living in Norfolk in his late mother's house.  I asked him if he still had the recipe for the curry and he said sadly no, but he had got it from the Harvey Day's book and so I straight away searched the internet and found a copy on sale on Ebay I think or may have been Amazon and bought it. Soon I tried the Godfrey curry and it brought back some memories.  In the book also was a recipe for Koofta (Meat ball curry) where the author had said, "Now with floured hands, take a spoonful of the mixture and form into small balls about the size of a large walnut".   I seem to sense something familiar about this instruction and looked up in another book I have and found a similar recipe that instructed "Now take a spoonful of the meat mixture and form into little balls with floured hands the size of large walnuts".   Clearly someone had copied that recipe and re worded it without quite a perfect grasp of English but it was very amusing none the less.

 

The good thing about the Harvey Day book is there are recipes for making your own curry powder or several types too according to purpose and some for curry pastes. The latter saves a lot of time when cooking.  There are plenty of books around today that do just as well but the fact that the Day book is so early an example of good Indian food that I find I refer to it for some superb basic stuff.   There comes a time if you make curry regularly, that you need to make a curry to copy those you get in Indian Restaurants and for this purpose I have several books written by Pat Chapman who formed "The Curry Club" in the UK and his books are full of restaurant favourites,  We have a much stronger tradition of curry making in the UK than the USA for example due to the immigration from India that began around the 1950s or possibly just after WWII and so Bengali Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities set up shops not only in areas where there was a concentration of Indian immigrant families but also mixed in with the English and Scottish towns so we now have many Indian Restaurants all over including London Birmingham Manchester Yorkshire Scotland and just about every town of any size and every City.    I feel a bit smug about it as I was visiting Indian Restaurants around London Hampstead Fulham Cheltenham Salisbury Plymouth Bristol back as far as 1964 and by 1971 I was making my own and therefore no longer needed the Restaurants but Indian food has taken off so well in Britain that at one time Chicken Tikka Masala became the National Dish ! Knocking Pizza into second place.  Long may that last.

Another funny that was rather quaint was when an Indian Waiter in East London said to me as I was perusing the menu  "You have meat bhoona it very hot and potato isn't it"  So I had the meat bhoona and it was very hot and potato!

--

Plado

 

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