link rel = "image_src” href=”preview-image-here.jpg” / expr:content='data:blog.metaDescription' Sukanya's musings: Worcestershire Sauce is actually of Indian Origin

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Worcestershire Sauce is actually of Indian Origin

Hi Members,
This is with reference to my article, Gastronomic Delights...A journey to China....Part 2(important) wherein I gave the recipe for Manchurian Balls...One of our members wrote to me saying that one of the ingredients in the Worcestershire Sauce is Anchovies(which is actually fish). this made me research a little on Worcestershire Sauce. Below is more information about the sauce which I picked from a website, I have copy pasted it for the convenience of our members.
I would like to alert our members to the fact that when you are living abroad or even in India please be aware and read the contents (ingredients) of things before you buy.There is a vegetarian version available in stores. So always remember to read the ingredients before you buy, I would advice not to follow any recipe word by word and start buying ingredients from supermarkets just dropping them in your trolley without reading first. Certain recipes can do without certain sauces and still taste as good.

More about Worcestershire Sauce
Worcestershire Sauce is one of those ingredients that are often used in barbecue but seldom understood by cooks. Worcestershire Sauce, such as Lee & Perrins, is as little understood as it is so often used. It did not exist at the time of the Europeans "discovery" of barbecue or at the founding of the United States, so it cannot be said to be an original part of barbecue, at least in its commercial form as sold today.
What then is in Worcestershire Sauce, and how can barbecue cooks attain the complex flavors without resorting to the commercial product? In other words, what ingredients can cooks use as a substitute for the commercial product when a recipe calls for "Worcestershire Sauce".
This story will explore the history of the famous sauce and uncover the secret ingredients and method of preparation that makes Worcestershire Sauce more like a fine wine than an ordinary sauce.
What is now called “Worcestershire Sauce” owes its origin to British imperialism and its colonization of India. Despite its English-sounding name, Worcestershire sauce was originally an Indian recipe. It was brought back to Britain in 1835 by Lord Marcus Sandys, the ex-governor of Bengal. The sauce has as one of its basic ingredients the Indian spice called tamarind.
Tamarind is a seed whose taste combines the sweet with the sour. Traditional Worcestershire Sauce combines tamarind and soy sauce, with a little cinnamon and cloves.
Asian markets sell tamarind paste. Home-made Worcestershire Sauce combines the tamarind paste with soy sauce, and it includes small amounts of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, lemon grass and ground cardamom.
The first commercial Worcestershire Sauce was produced long after the Native Americans taught Europeans about barbecue, and generations after the American colonies made barbecue into a social event centered on whole hog and vinegar based sauce.
One of its primary ingredients is the anchovy. Anchovies are small fish, no more than 8" long, that have been known from classical times to be uniquely susceptible to curing and preserving, with a taste unlike that of any other fish. After the Greeks and Romans popularized the tiny fish, they were enjoyed throughout the world. Russians enjoyed them hot-smoked. Chinese ate them dried. Thais beat them into pungent fish sauce.
However, from the Elizabethans onward, the English perfected the use of the anchovy in sauces. Throughout the 18th and 19th Centuries, the anchovy fueled the English passion for bottled sauces, like Harvey's (anchovies, pickled walnuts, soy, shallots and garlic), Pontac ketchup (anchovies, elderberry juice, shallots and spices), and Burgess's Anchovy Essence, which dates from 1760. The English breakfast today still includes Gentleman's Relish, whose major ingredient is the anchovy.
But it was Worcestershire Sauce, which was first mixed in 1838, which remains the most popular sauce worldwide today. One of tts major ingredient is the anchovy.
The history of Worcestershire Sauce
Worcestershire sauce itself is of cross-cultural origins. In 1835, Lord Marcus Sandys, an ex-governor of Bengal, approached chemists John Lea and William Perrins, whose prospering business in Broad Street, Worcester, handled pharmaceutical's and toiletries as well as groceries. He asked them to make up a sauce from a recipe which he brought back from India. While his lordship was apparently satisfied with the results, Messrs Lea and Perrins considered it to be an "unpalatable, red-hot fire-water" and consigned the quantity they had made for themselves to the cellars.
During the stocktaking/spring clean the following year, they came across the barrel and decided to taste it before discarding it. To their amazement, the mixture had mellowed into an aromatic, piquant and appetizing liquid. They hastily purchased the recipe from Lord Sandys and, in 1838, the Anglo-Indian Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce was launched commercially.
One of the myriad 19th-century pungent English sauces based on oriental ingredients, it had many imitators sporting pretentious names such as "British Lion" and "Empress of India". Its exact recipe remains a secret. All that is known is that it includes vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, molasses, tamarind, shallots, anchovies, ginger, chili, cloves, nutmeg and cardamom.
Another history
Worcestershire sauce was named for the town of Worcester, England, which is in the Shire (county) of Worcester.
In 1835, when Lord Marcus Sandys, governor of Bengal, retired to Ombersley, England, he longed for his favorite Indian sauce. He took the recipe to a drugstore on Broad Street in nearby Worcester where he commissioned the shopkeepers, John Lea and William Perrins, to mix up a batch. Lea and Perrins made a large batch, hoping to sell the excess to other customers. The pungent fishy concoction wound up in the cellar where it sat undisturbed until Lea and Perrins rediscovered it two years later when house cleaning. Upon tasting the aged sauce, Lea and Perrin bottled Worcester sauce as a local dip.
When Lea and Perrins' salesmen convinced British passenger ships to put the sauce on their dining room tables, Worcestershire sauce became an established steak sauce across Europe and the United States.
To this day, the ingredients in Worcestershire sauce are stirred together and allowed to sit for two years before being bottled.
According to Lee & Perrins
According to the Lee & Perrins website:
In 1835, Lord Sandys, a nobleman from the county of Worcestershire, England, commissioned a pair of chemists - John Lea and William Perrins - to duplicate a sauce he had acquired during his travels in India.
Their finished product, however, proved to be anything but pleasing.Disappointed, they banished their brew to the cellar.
There, the sauce lay forgotten until the pair stumbled upon it two years later. Before they discarded their concoction for good, they took one last taste. Much to their surprise, it had matured like a fine wine - exhibiting a savory aromatic scent and a wonderfully unique taste. Lea & Perrins Original Worcestershire Sauce was born.
It wasn't long before Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce made its way onto dining cars and passenger ships, and into hotel dining rooms and restaurants.
Worcestershire is the name of a county in England. A county in England is called a "shire", which is the last part of the name.
So what is "Worcester"? Of course, Worcester is a city which is located in the county called Worcestershire.
The county is located in the English midlands, south of Birmingham. Here is a map of England with Worcestershire marked.
Of course, the name of the city is pronounced "worster", and the county and sauce are pronounced "worster-shire". That is, ignore the second syllable, "ces".
However, although Worcestershire Sauce owes its name to this midlands county, its origin is not British but Indian.

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