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Cooking with Tallyrand

The Feast of Plassey

25 Jul 2012 13:47


Good to see this site with its useful ideas, hints and tips.  My cookery talents have been described as "Dark-side" by my wife but I do enjoy good food.  I also like history and poetry so when the three combine my cup runneth over.  In homage to your curry recipes I thought you might be interested in the following verse.  It may be apocryphal but who knows - that's the stuff that legends are made of.

The story goes that, after the battle of Plassey, Clive commanded a victory feast which also doubled as a different military contest - a curry challenge!  Officers of the Bengal Lancers and the First Light ate through the night until only two were left.  The event was commemorated in verse by a young subaltern, later to be Duke of Marlborough.  In turn his verse was "borrowed" years later by Tennyson and immortalised as the "Charge of the Light Brigade".  I prefer the original.  Enjoy!!


The Feast of Plassey

Half a mile, half a mile,
Half a mile onward,
Into the Taj Mahal
Marched the One Hundred.
Forward the Kings First Light,
Lancers to left and right.
Into the Taj Mahal
Marched the One Hundred.


Curries to right of them,
Curries to left of them,
Curries in front of them,
Bubbled and chundered.
Pickles and naan as well,
Boldly they ate and well,
Braving the ring of fire,
There in the heat of hell,
Gorged the One Hundred.


Korma came first they say,
Pickles from Suranday,
Dried fish from far Bombay,
But those officers wonder’d.
When would they raise the heat?
Spices too hot to eat
Like coals on the soles of feet
There in the Taj Mahal,
Gorged the One Hundred.


Then came the tarka daal,
Madras and chicken phaal,
Follow’d by Vindaloo
But someone had blundered.
Fennel and fenugreek,
Ginger and turmeric,
Chillies from Pilibhit,
Into the Vindaloo,
Went over six hundred.


Forward the King’s First Light,
Lancers to left and right
Into the torrid night,
Tunics asunder.
After the vindaloo
There remained only two,
Officers bold and true,
Plassey men thro’ and thro’
There in the Taj Mahal,
Of that one hundred.


When can their glory fade?
O the wild feast they made!
All the world wonder’d.
Honour the Kings First Light,
Lancers on steeds so white,
Noble One Hundred.

25 Jul 2012 14:56

@neilh - nice one! that is brilliant :-)

A man after my own heart, I love food related literature ..... Poems and fictional novels. 

As to history, I devour anything ancient, as in Egyptology, Crusades and Asia (great tv document last night on Tutenkamen) 

And as you say, when the three collide, all the better. But any mix of the three suits me. 

I completed a great degree of research many years ago, on the Chef of Kings and the King of Chefs; August Escoffier. For which you will see me mentioned in a lot of articles etc on him, as being the source of information. So food history is a bit of a passion, as you will see on my 'old' website that Brazilnut just dug up and dusted off :-)

Hopefully, you will keep reading my articles, recommend others to sign up for and feel free to ask questions, request recipes or ask if you need a culinary conundrum solved


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