Now we have heard how Mrs. Sedley had prepared a fine curry for her son, just as he liked it, and in the course of dinner a portion of this dish was offered to Rebecca. “What is it?” said she, turning an appealing look to Mr. Joseph.
“Capital,” said he. His mouth was full of it; his face quite red with the delightful exercise of gobbling. “Mother, it’s as good as my own curries in India.”
“Oh, I must try some, if it is an Indian dish,” said Miss Rebecca. “I am sure everything must be good that comes from there.”
“Give Miss Sharp some curry, my dear,” said Mr. Sedley, laughing.
Rebecca had never tasted the dish before.
“Do you find it as good as everything else from India?” said Mr. Sedley.
“Oh, excellent!” said Rebecca, who was suffering tortures with the cayenne pepper.
“Try a chili with it, Miss Sharp,” said Joseph, really interested.
“A chili,” said Rebecca, gasping. “Oh, yes!” She thought a chili was something cool, as its name imported, and was served with some. “How fresh and green they look,” she said, and put one into her mouth. It was hotter than the curry; flesh and blood could bear it no longer. She laid down her fork. “Water, for Heaven’s sake, water!” she cried. Mr. Sedley burst out laughing (he was a coarse man, from the Stock Exchange, where they love all sorts of practical jokes). “They are real Indian, I assure you,” said he. “Sambo, give Miss Sharp some water.”
The paternal laugh was echoed by Joseph, who thought the joke capital. The ladies only smiled a little. They thought poor Rebecca suffered too much. She would have liked to choke old Sedley, but she swallowed her mortification as well as she had the abominable curry before it, and as soon as she could speak, said, with a comical, good-humoured air—
“I ought to have remembered the pepper which the Princess of Persia puts in the cream-tarts in the Arabian Nights. Do you put cayenne into your cream-tarts in India, sir?”
” Vanity Fair – William Makepiece Thackeray

We’re having a heat-wave in South Africa and the weather forecasters are madly issuing warnings for people to stay adequately hydrated and stay out of the sun. ‘There’s a saying that ‘when even salamanders are fainting from the heat, there’s nothing like a good, hot Madras curry’, (sourced from and that is just what I did yesterday as the temperatures reached over thirty degrees in Johannesburg.

chicken madras

Much hotter than Ms Sharp could ever have handled, it made for surprising relief from the heat.
I used Gordon Ramsay’s recipe. (But added mushrooms, peas and potatoes.)


70 thoughts on “VERY SHARP

  1. I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that the hottest food is served in the hottest climates – I wonder if it’s related to a time when refrigeration wasn’t available, and therefore the chilli was used to kill anything nasty in food which might not be lasting quite as well in the hot conditions?

    Either way, when it the mercury rises, I find myself craving curry as well.. 🙂

  2. Becky Sharp is one of my favourite heroines but I’d forgotten this scene!

    Reading the recipe – more than 40mns seems an awfully long time for some ‘diced chicken breast’ – didn’t it dry out?

  3. Sadly we are STILL having cool weather down here – got quite irritable having to put on tracksuit pants and a long top again this morning – okay, now I feel better.
    Have a super day and enjoy the beautiful hot weather.
    🙂 Mandy

  4. (‘nother Dinah) Eating a hot seasoned dish in hot climates promotes sweating, which is good. Provided you keep up the water intake. Sadly, the English only took water in their scotch or gin! 🙂

  5. As it’s cooling down here, that would be a perfect dish…I don’t do so much hot in the heat of the summer. I love Fall and Winter just to make soup…made the most incredible crab chowder this past weekend and cornbread biscotti…love meals like that, real comfort food!

  6. Fight hot with hotter. 🙂 Fortunately for me (I’m a bit of a Rebecca where heavily spiced food is concerned), we seldom experience heat waves here where I live…

  7. I am still a Philistine who believes that curries, like soups, are best in cold weather. Also, I like my curries mild. I suppose it is like mustard, where once the tastebuds are rendered insensible one develops a taste for the English variety and scorns the mild French alternative.

  8. I adore hot fiery cuisine. Curries with a bit of chili oil on the side. Yummy!

    Surprised at how warm the weather got so fast. 30 degrees C in October seems surprising.

      • I can do mild, as long as you don’t define it the way they do in Durban 😉 Made me smile…. I remember the short time we lived in Margate many years ago… Indian ‘country’… My dad loved their bunny chow. The Indian definition of ‘mild’ was very scary… set me on fire, then made my eyes water to extinguish it 😀 I loved milk for a w-h-o-l-e different reason back then! 🙂

  9. I envy you your 30+ temps. We only reached that high once or twice this summer. Now we’re heading into winter. Snow in Lethbridge today. Huge sigh. The curry sounds great. Followed the link to GR’s recipes. Will definitely bookmark.

  10. Canada had a heat wave in 1935. Temperatures soared to 44 degrees C in Manitoba. 400 people drowned while attempting to find relief in various bodies of waters. There is no mention of Curry Aid arriving from India or South Africa. 😀

  11. We’ve also had the odd really hot night here in the past week, but it’s cold here today and curry will go down a treat. Hope it’s cooled down there a bit too, Cin and that you have your mojo back

  12. Oh like this post Cindy. I grew up eating curries because my Mum was born in India. We were so mean to all our boyfriends/girlfriends when they first came round to dinner and would eat my Mum’s curry for the first time. I remember one particular boyfriend of my sister. His ear’s turned bright red and even though he seemed to be drinking more water than eating curry he insisted that he loved the dinner…
    I’m going to go straight to the bookshop to find a copy of William Makepiece Thackeray’s Vanity Fair.

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