Made with LOVE under the Poplars
Innocently handed down through generations, a curry paste recipe all the way from India is creating smiles around Orange and surrounds, and the lady behind it all, ‘Granny’(Esther) was Orange local Renee Sinclair’s Great Grandmother, now Renee is keeping the taste alive under ‘Burtons Curry Paste’.
When I met with Renee, she had a beautiful large leather bound type book sitting on the kitchen bench, this was her ‘Grannys’ original recipe book, so original, that the splatters from her cooking (dating from the 1930s) were still evident on the page.
Life was prosperous for ‘Granny’ and her husband living in India they raised five children between them. Once the great depression hit, the family were forced to walk away from their coffee plantation business. Suddenly they couldn’t afford to feed and educate their children, so four of the children were sent to two different orphanages, bar the youngest child.
To get the kids back, ‘Granny’ had the idea of making home cooked ready-made meals to which her husband would sell on his bicycle. They were so successful, soon they were asked to make curry paste and other condiments. In the end they had a large pickle factory in Bangalore, almost every afternoon Granny would sit over a large wood fire cooking. At their peak they had over 30 employees to help them - in the days before machinery, all the hard work had to be done by hand.
This company still bears their name and is still in operation today though it is no longer owned by the family. Their success with this business enabled them to bring their children home. The family moved to Australia in 1948 and in addition to the gift of settling in Australia are these recipes that have been preserved to hand on to future generations of their family.
Evidently emotional of her Great Grandparents story Renee said, “I do this out of choice, my Granny did it out of necessity, it took them about 3-4 years to get their children back. I was told the boys actually begged my Great Grandparents not to send them to the orphanage and that they would eat less so they could stay, I couldn’t imagine what that would be like.”
“I feel proud of my family and to see the items still being sold in stores with my Great Grandfathers signature (Bolst), that’s not something many people experience.”
“For me growing up, Saturday lunches were special lunches, often in winter it was curry, it was only one type of curry paste. If mum had a spare jar I would steal it,” Renee smiled, “It was one of my Sisters who really opened my eyes and showed us (myself and my other sister) the significance of sharing the story of our curry paste and where it came from.”
Renee and her family cook their recipes at the Millthorpe School canteen. “Sometimes when I stand here really tired, (because it’s quite labour intensive) I think to myself, am I mad? because I’m only choosing to do this, it’s not a necessity. Without Brad (Husband) it would be even more labour intensive for me, so I am very appreciative of him.”
“When I first began making the curry, I nervously gave it as presents to the preschool teachers, Renee laughed, “I was always so nervous about even doing that. My family were my first taste testers, the kids would say ‘Oh no not curry again!’”
“The locals here are so good at supporting local, I love that, it’s something I’ll always really appreciate about living in this community. It’s always good to talk and connect with people who buy it, and when I get comments like - “Even my fussy kid ate it!” I think, wow well.. I must have something good,” Renee laughed.
“What I’m realising is I’ts making life easier for busy families.”
“People say to me, ‘Oh you’re the curry lady?!’ And I think am I getting a reputation now?” Renee laughed. “I do get excited when somebody new tries it and they tell me that they actually like it, I’m always being encouraged by people to stock it at all of these different places, when other people are promoting it for me I think it must be alright.”
Along with the Curry paste, Renee also makes Tomato Kussaundi and Brinjal Pickle condiments, which we are told are also a must try!
“I’m always itching to do something more, I do want my business to grow, in saying that I want it to fit in with my family as well. Many people ask me if I am going to expand on the recipes (make it hotter etc.), unless I find one in the book, I don’t think so, it’s a family recipe, I don’t want to change it - that takes away what is special about it.”
“It’s part of my family, it’s part of my heritage.”
You can follow along with ‘Burtons Lane Curry Paste’ on their Instagram and Facebook page and maybe even pick up some delicious recipes from her posts.
The Essential Ingredient
The Agrestic Grocer
Red Chilli Deli