-The Cooking Colonel of Madras by David Smith

regional specialities >

sauces & condiments


Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce   Worcestershire sauce

Worcestershire Sauce is known colloquially in England simply as 'Worcester sauce' with the first word pronounced wuust-uhr. Worcester sauce is a brown, vinegar-based sauce. It is made from malt vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, tamarind, onions, garlic and spices. It is a pouring sauce and is not thickened like Brown Sauce. The legend goes that in the early 1800's a certain Lord Sandys wanted to duplicate a recipe he'd acquired in Bengal when he returned home to Worcestershire. Lord Sandys commissioned a pharmacy in Worcester, owned by John Lea and William Perrins, to make up a batch of the sauce. Apparently, the sauce tasted foul at first but Lea and Perrins re-tasted the sauce after a couple of years and found it had matured into a tasty condiment. Lea and Perrins then bought the recipe from Lord Sandys and began commercial production of their Worcestershire Sauce. The legend is still promoted today by Lea and Perrins but is disputed by some food historians. What we do know is that the sauce has been made in the English county of Worcestershire since 1837. There was a health scare over Worcester sauce in 2005 but Lea and Perrins, the brand leader, was not affected.

Hendersons Relish

Henderson's Relish

  Yorkshire relish

Yorkshire relish is a general name for various types of pungent pouring sauces made in the county of Yorkshire. The one I want to concentrate on is an old favourite of mine, Henderson's Relish which is made in the South Yorkshire steel town of Sheffield. When I was a student in Sheffield in the 1970s I lived in digs for a while and my landlady made us home made fish and chips every Friday evening. On the table to liven up the meal was salt, vinegar and a long slim bottle of the local Henderson's Relish. I had been familiar with Worcestershire Sauce since I was a child but Henderson's Relish was, and still is, local to South Yorkshire and was new to me. The bottle, the label and indeed the sauce itself all look like Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce but the taste is quite different. The sauce is not fermented like Worcestershire sauce and does not contain anchovies so is suitable for vegetarians. Henderson's Relish is made from water, sugar, spirit vinegar, salt, tamarind, cayenne pepper, cloves and garlic oil. Sadly, I have no contacts in Sheffield any more and no longer get to visit and stock up on bottles of this delicious sauce. Fish and chips just aren't the same without it.

Colmans Mustard   Colman's mustard (Norwich)

Colman's have been making English mustard in Norwich in the county of Norfolk since 1814. English mustard, typified by Colman's, is a mixture of brown mustard (Brassica juncea) and white mustard (Sinapis alba). The mustard plants that produce the seeds for Colmans mustard are grown locally in the area around Norwich. The blended mustard seeds are ground into mustard flour which is then mixed with water, citric acid, sugar, salt and spices to make the famous mustard with the yellow label sporting a picture of a bull's head. English mustard is not cooked and the ingredients are simply mixed together and matured giving the mustard its particularly hot taste.

Tewkesbury mustard

Fortnum & Mason's Tewkesbury mustard

  Tewkesbury mustard

Sadly, Tewkesbury mustard is no longer made commercially in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire. Fortunately, it is still made by small independent producers elsewhere one of whom supplies the famous London food hall Fortnum & Mason and whose mustard is excellent. If you wanted a foodstuff that is genuinely Olde English then Tewkesbury mustard is your man. In their book Traditional Foods of Britain Laura Mason and Catherine Brown point out that Tewkesbury mustard was well known even in 15th century England. They go on to quote a passage from Shakespeare's Henry IV which goes "His wit's as thick as Tewkesbury Mustard!". Tewkesbury mustard uses coarsely ground mustard seeds mixed with pounded horseradish root, vinegar, sugar, salt and spices. Originally, the mustard seeds and horseradish were mixed, made into small balls and then dried. The dried balls were later re-constituted with vinegar, verjuice or some other liquid like cider or wine.