Colonial curry? Bully for you!

28 Dec


We’re still on a curry kick, but this time with some west coast-inspired recipes we’ve been hoarding. fall2010-042

The ultra elegant Fairmont Empress has been serving a curry buffet in its Colonial Bengal Lounge for years.

Among the stout, bubbling pots of butter chicken, coconut curry lamb, tandoori chicken, vegetarian curry, saffron basmati rice, spinach bhajias or lentil bonda is a selection of mango chutney, tomato salsa, cucumber raita, sultanas, peanuts, and shredded coconut.
bengal salad

And don’t get us started about the cardamom creme brulee.bengal apple
We missed out on the cardamom apple pies. Boo.

The window table we sat at above.

Luckily, we snagged this Bengal recipe out of the newspaper archives:


The chefs at Victoria’s Empress Hotel use this versatile curry sauce in meals served in the Bengal Lounge.

For the curry sauce
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp minced ginger
1 onion, chopped
sesame oil to taste
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 14 oz. tin coconut milk
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint

For the seafood
16 peeled prawns
3/4 pound snapper fillet,
cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup water
16 mussels, rinsed
16 clams, rinsed
For garnish

– lime wedges and fresh mint sprigs

Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add spices (except chili flakes), garlic, ginger and onions; cook, stirring, until the latter is tender, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients; simmer 15 minutes. Mix cornstarch with water, then whisk into curry sauce. Bring sauce back to a simmer to cook the starch.

Add snapper and prawns to curry sauce; simmer until both cooked, about 5 minutes. In another pan bring water to boil. Add clams; cook covered 2 minutes, then add mussels. Cook until both just begin to open. With a slotted spoon, lift out clams and mussels; arrange on serving platter. Spoon over curry sauce. Garnish with lime wedges, mint sprigs. Serve with steamed rice. Serves 4 to 6.

bengal hot

Another recipe from the Bengal Lounge for Pacific Flavours:

empress curry

And how about this amazing 1908 cocktail and short-rib poutine?


Cocktail: The 1908

A ‘Must Have’ When Visiting Victoria. Empress Blend 1908 Tea Infused Vodka, Fresh Lemon Juice, Lightly Sweetened And Frothy Egg Whites.

1 1/2 oz tea-infused vodka

3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

3/4 oz simple syrup

3/4 oz egg whites

To make tea-infused vodka, add 4 tea bags to a 40 oz bottle of your favourite vodka and let stand for 4 to 5 hours.

Combine all ingredients in a shaker and serve in a martini glass garnished with a strip of lemon peel.

Appetizer: Braised Short Rib Poutine

“The 1908 cocktail goes great with curry but we also love pairing it with our braised short rib poutine,” says Pearce.

Braised Short Rib

350 to 400 grams boneless short ribs

1 large carrot

3 large onions

3 stalks celery

100 mL tomato paste

250 mL red wine

2 litres beef stock

Heat a generous glug of vegetable oil in a medium frying over medium heat and sear short ribs on all sides.

Remove short ribs to roasting pan, and sauté carrot, onion and celery.

Add tomato paste, stirring well to combine.

Add vegetable mixture to roasting pan.

Deglaze frying pan with red wine and add liquid to roasting pan along with stock.

Ensure ribs are submerged in braising liquid.

Cook in pre-heated 300F oven until beef is tender (easily shreds when pulled apart with two forks), about 4 to 5 hours.

Remove beef to separate container and shred into bite size pieces

Strain cooking liquid and pour into medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until thickened.


454 g cheese curd

900 g french fries, deep-fried is best but baked in the oven will also work

Serve fries in a bowl, topped with cheese curds, braised beef and sauce


We also have high praise for the Bengal Lounge’s signature butter chicken. It was lovely — not at all that orangey, too-sweet tomato soupy version.

Here’s hoping this is close to what we enjoyed so much!

by Executive Chef Kamal Silva, The Fairmont Empress

Serves 5

1kg fresh tomatoes
220gm (almost a cup) peeled tomatoes
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp garlic
1 green chili
1 1/2 tsp. coriander stem
2 tbsp red onion
2 heaping tbsp red bell pepper
2 pinches green cardamom
1 pinch black cardamom
1 pinch cloves
3 bay leaves
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp paprika powder
over 1/2 cup water
100 ml oil
1 1/2 more tbsp ginger garlic paste
300 ml cream
50g (over 3 tbsp) butter
1 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
3 tbsp garam masala
salt and honey

Wash and quarter tomatoes, clean and slice ginger, garlic, green chilies, onion, bell pepper.

Put all the ingredients together with peeled tomatoes, whole spices, paprika and water, in a large pot and cook for three hours on medium heat or till fresh tomatoes are all mashed up.

Blend and strain.

Heat oil in heavy bottom pot and sauté ginger garlic paste till golden.

Add the puree and cook over slow medium fire for two hours, stirring in between.

Start to add the cream and butter slowly, cook till the right consistency.

Finish with garam masala and kasoori methi and season with salt and honey.


One Response to “Colonial curry? Bully for you!”


  1. Indian Summer, Rockies style | Saucy Cherie - May 13, 2015

    […] we are a wee bit obsessed by the Colonial curry buffet at the Empress’ Bengal Lounge, it’s rather thrilling to see something similar in […]

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