25 July, 2021

Dinner With Edwina

Shut after 1947, the viceroy's kitchen reopens once again

Sanjoy Ghosh
Dinner With Edwina
Big-bellied copper pots to prepare pintfuls of steaming turtle consomme. Metal cutlet bats to tenderise beef into butter-soft filet mignons. Gleaming silver salvers to carry in main courses like quail stuffed with grapes for banquets at 'Viceroy's House', as Rashtrapati Bhavan was known before Independence. These were the 'imperial measures' used in the kitchens and dining rooms of the Crown and all her colonies, which faded from sight with the end of the Raj in India.

Within Viceroy's House, the largest palace built in the 20th century, the banquet table was the heart of the house, seating a hundred people, and laid with crystal stemware and fluted turquoise plates embossed with the viceregal insignia. Here, for about two decades, khansamahs, masalchis and butlers created repasts for the viceroys of India from Lords Irwin to Mountbatten.

Retrieved from the stores of the President's Estate, this custom-made dining-room paraphernalia of pre-Independence...

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