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excerpts from Tropical Cookery Simplified

1963: Marie L. Pickering

Marie L. Pickering wrote Tropical Cookery Simplified (first published: London, Faber and Faber Limited, 1936; these excerpts from the 1963 edition co-published with Wehman Bros. Publishers, Hackensack, NJ) while she was in the Gold Coast colony (now Ghana) with her husband, who was the manager of the Marlu gold mine -- evidently he named the mine after her, forming the name from the initial syllables of her name: Marie Louise. She explains that earlier editions of Tropical Cookery, "were written in particular for bachelors living under somewhat primitive bush conditions or for husbands separated from wives," while the later editions were produced in a time when, "the European family lives in its tropical environment without difficulty for the duration of a tour; in general, conditions are far less primitive than they were; refrigerators, air conditioning and deep freeze containers are commonplace and the kitchen has been transformed from the smoke-ridden structure some distance from the house to the gleaming chromium-plated adjunct to the really modern home."


Tropical Cookery Simplified

Marie L. Pickering
Domestic Science Diploma, with Honours, of the National Training College of Domestic Subjects, London

24 Russell Square

Devilled Groundnuts

Prepare in the same way as salted nuts, but while still hot and greasy sprinkle lightly with cayenne pepper.

Roasted Groundnuts


  1. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet or tin.
  2. Bake in a moderate oven until dark brown.
  3. Cool, then rub off the skins.
  4. Sprinkle the nuts with salt and serve in individual dishes.

Salted Groundnuts


  1. Bake in a moderate oven to dry thoroughly without discolouring, then rub off the skins.
  2. Heat one tablespoon groundnut oil in a frying-pan, stir or toss the nuts in it until an even golden brown colour.
  3. Drain well on paper.
  4. Sprinkle lightly with salt, and serve hot in small dishes.
Note: Salted nuts can be stored in airtight bottles.

Green Pawpaw Soup

Time of cooking: 2 hours     Quantity: To serve 4 persons

  • 1 green pawpaw
  • 1 pint white stock or water
  • 1 teacup milk or 1 small tin milk
  • 1 onion
  • Parsley stalks (if available)
  • A little mace or nutmeg
  • 1/2 oz. butter or dripping
  • 1 oz. cornflour to thicken
  • Fried dice of bread
  • Pepper and salt
  1. Remove the seeds, peel and cut up the pawpaw into small pieces.
  2. Slice the onion finely.
  3. Melt the butter or dripping and fry the vegetables in it without browning.
  4. Add the water, salt and parsley stalks.
  5. Simmer 1 and 1/2 hours.
  6. Rub through a sieve.
  7. Return the soup to the pan.
  8. Add pepper and cornflour blended with the milk.
  9. Boil 5 minutes to cook thoroughly.
  10. Serve with fried dice of bread.

Curry of Cold Fish

Quantity: To serve 2-3 persons

  • 1 teacup cooked fish
  • 1 small apple
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 oz. butter
  • 1 small teacup milk and water
  • 1 teaspoon curry-powder
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Cayenne and salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated coconut
  • For dishing: 3 tablespoons [boiled] rice [per serving]
  1. Peel and chop the apple and onion.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add apple and onion, fry until golden brown.
  3. Stir in curry-powder and flour, then pour in milk and water, continue cooking until it comes to the boil.
  4. Simmer gently 1/2 hour.
  5. Prepare fish and leave in large flakes. Boil and dry the rice.
  6. Add fish to the curry sauce, also cayenne, salt and lemon juice. Heat thoroughly, but do not boil it.
  7. To dish, make a border of boiled rice. Pour the curried fish in the middle, sprinkle with browned coconut.
  8. Garnish with butterflies of lemon.
  9. Serve sweet mango chutney.

An assortment of the following should be served with the curry:
Sliced banana, raw
Sliced banana, fried brown
Small dice of pineapple
Grated coconut, raw
Grated coconut, browned
Salted groundnuts
Ground red peppers
Segments of orange
Mango chutney or any sweet pickle

Curried Prawns

Same recipe and method applies as for Curry of Cold Fish. Use 1 lb. picked fresh prawns or a large tin of prawns.


Time of cooking: 5 - 10 minutes     Quantity: To serve 4 persons

  • 1/2 large cooked smoked haddock or any cooked white fish
  • 2 tablespoons rice
  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • Salt and cayenne
  • Nutmeg
  • 1 oz. butter
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • Squeeze lemon juice
  1. Cook and dry the rice.
  2. Remove the skin and bone from fish and break it into flakes.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
  4. Add the fish, rice, chopped white of egg, lemon juice and seasoning, and heat gently.
  5. Serve piled on a hot dish.
  6. Garnish with sieved yolk of egg, chopped parsley and slices of lemon.

Fillet of Steak with Bananas


  1. Cut the steak into slices 1-inch thick. Trim into neat rounds and beat.
  2. Rub with salt and brush with oil. Allow to stand 1 hour.
  3. Fry both sides rapidly in hot fat. Cook 5 to 7 minutes altogether.
  4. Cut bananas in halves lengthwise, then across in two.
  5. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes by the side of the meat.
  6. Serve steak on rounds of fried bread or on toast with a pat of maitre d'hotel butter on each. Arrange bananas round the dish. Garnish with parsley or watercress.

Maitre d'Hotel Butter

  • 2 oz. butter
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
  • Cayenne
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  1. Put all the ingredients on a plate and blend them with a knife.
  2. Form into a neat square and allow to harden in the refrigerator.
  3. Cut and use as required.

Chicken and Banana Réchauffé

Time of cooking: 20-25 minutes     Quantity: To serve 1 person

  • 1 leg of chicken
  • 2 rashers of bacon
  • 1 banana
  • 2 oz. butter
  • Salt and cayenne
Serve: Potato crisps

  1. Score the meat deeply with a sharp knife, season well.
  2. Fry briskly in hot butter. Remove from the pan and keep hot.
  3. Fry two rashers of bacon and the banana cut in four (lengthwise, then across).
  4. Serve the chicken on a hot dish, with the bacon on top, and then the browned banana, with potato crisps round. Garnish with parsley or watercress.

Groundnut Chop

Quantity: To serve 4 Persons

  • 2 young chickens
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs
  • 4 teacups groundnuts
  • 3 teacups water
  • 1 teacup coconut milk
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • Seasoning
  • A dish of boiled rice
Serve a selection of the following accompaniments:
(a) Roast groundnuts.
(b) Grated groundnuts.
(c) Fried onion rings.
(d) Sliced onion (raw) sprinkled with sugar and vinegar.
(e) Sliced banana or plantain.
(f) Sliced banana or plantain fried.
(g) Freshly grated coconut.
(h) Browned coconut.
(i) Okros.
(j) Segments of orange.
(k) Sliced green peppers.
(l) Ground red peppers.

  1. Grind or pound the groundnuts, and put them into a large pan.
  2. Add hot water gradually and mix to a smooth paste. Simmer two hours. Strain off the gravy and add coconut milk to it.
  3. Prepare the chickens and cut them into small portions.
  4. Fry meat, then the sliced onion and tomatoes.
  5. Simmer chicken in groundnut gravy two hours, add seasoning and hard-boiled eggs and put the chicken and eggs in a deep dish.
  6. Thicken the gravy with 1 tablespoon of flour blended with water. Pour the gravy over the meat.
  7. Serve bowl of rice and all accompaniments separately.

Pigeon Pie

Time of cooking: 1 and 1/2 hours     Quantity: To serve 4 persons

  • Rough puff pastry Using 8 oz. flour [below]
  • 2 pigeons
  • 1 small tin mushrooms
  • 2 rashers of bacon
  • 1 dessertspoon flour, pepper and salt to make seasoned flour
  • 1/2 pint stock
  1. Cut the pigeons into small joints and chop the bacon and mushrooms coarsely.
  2. Toss the pigeon in seasoned flour and arrange in a pie-dish with a sprinkling of mushrooms and bacon.
  3. Add the stock.
  4. Make the pastry, cover the pie and glaze with beaten egg.
  5. Bake in a hot oven 30 minutes to set pastry (425 degrees F., Regulo 7), then cook slowly for 1 hour.
  6. Fill the pie with extra stock.
  7. Serve hot or cold.

Rough Puff Pastry

(Suitable for sausage rolls, mince pies, meat pies, vol-au-vents, etc.)

  • 8 oz. flour
  • 5 to 6 oz. butter or butter and lard
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Cold water to mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Sieve the flour and salt on to a board.
  2. Cut the butter into it, leaving it in pieces the size of walnuts.
  3. Add lemon juice and water. Bind together, but do not break up the butter.
  4. Press together on a floured board and roll it out to a long strip three times as long as the width, keeping the sides even and the ends square.
  5. Fold in three, place between two plates and leave in the refrigerator 1/2 hour.
  6. Roll the pastry out to an oblong, having the folded edges at the sides.
  7. Repeat rolling and folding the pastry in three, four times.
  8. Leave in the refrigerator to harden after each folding.
  9. Roll out the pastry to the size and thickness for the purpose for which it is required.
  10. Bake in a hot oven. Oven temperature: 445 degrees F., Regulo 8.

Groundnut Stuffing for Turkey

  • 3 teacups groundnuts
  • 1 teacup fresh bread-crumbs
  • 1/2 teacup boiled onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
  • 2 eggs to bind
  • Pepper, salt and cayenne
  1. Roast and skin the groundnuts. Pound or roll them on a board until smooth.
  2. Mix nuts, breadcrumbs, chopped onion and parsley together. Season well, bind to a firm mixture with the eggs.
  3. Stuff the breast with this forcemeat; or make it into balls, the size of walnuts - coat with egg and breadcrumbs, and fry in deep fat.
Note: If chestnuts are available, use 1 lb. boiled, skinned and sieved instead of the groundnuts.

Cinnamon Bananas

  • 4 small bananas
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
For coating
  • Beaten egg
  • Breadcrumbs
For baking
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil or 2 oz. butter
  1. Peel and cut the bananas in halves.
  2. Dry with flour and cinnamon mixed together.
  3. Coat with beaten egg and breadcrumbs.
  4. Heat the oil in a baking-tin, and when faintly smoking put in the bananas. Baste well.
  5. Bake in a moderate oven 20 minutes or until brown and soft.
  6. Drain and dish piled high in a vegetable dish with plain d'oyley.

Stuffed Green Pawpaw

  • 1 green pawpaw
  • 1 teacup minced meat or ham
  • 1 oz. butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 teaspoon mushroom ketchup
  • Pepper and salt
  • Beaten egg to bind
  1. Peel the pawpaw, cut in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds.
  2. Boil in salted water 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Drain well.
  4. Mince the meat, tomato and onion together.
  5. Heat the butter, add minced meat mixture, mushroom ketchup, breadcrumbs, seasoning and sufficient egg to bind. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Fill the pawpaw with the mixture. Sprinkle the top with brown breadcrumbs.
  7. Bake in a moderate oven 20 to 30 minutes.
  8. Serve with brown sauce poured round it.

Native Spinach

(Choose the young leaves, those barely unfolded)

  • Spinach (1 and 1/2 to 2 lb.)
  • Pepper, salt and butter
  • 1 tablespoon cream or tinned unsweetened milk
  1. Wash the spinach in several waters faintly tinted with potassium permanganate.
  2. Remove stalks.
  3. Put the leaves into a saucepan without any extra water.
  4. Cover and cook gently till tender. Stir occasionally.
  5. Drain and press out all the water.
  6. Reheat, adding the cream, pepper and salt.

Avocado Salad

  • Allow 1/2 avocado per person
Filling of
  • shelled shrimps
  • tuna fish (tinned)
  • cold salmon flaked (fresh or tinned)
  • mixed vegetable salad diced
  1. Wash and cut avocado in half lengthwise and remove the stone.
  2. Blend selected filling with sufficient salad cream or French dressing to moisten the mixture.
  3. Fill centre of avocado and decorate with paprika pepper.
  4. Serve chilled on lettuce leaves.

Baked Bananas

Time of cooking: 15 - 20 minutes     Quantity: To serve 3 persons

  • 3 bananas
  • Powdered cinnamon
  • Castor sugar
To coat
  • Beaten egg and breadcrumbs
To serve
  • jam sauce [jam, water, sugar, and lemon juice, boiled]
  1. Cut the bananas across in halves.
  2. Dust lightly with powdered cinnamon.
  3. Coat with beaten egg and breadcrumbs.
  4. Place in a pie-dish with two tablespoons of butter or groundnut oil.
  5. Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Drain thoroughly.
  6. Serve dredged with castor sugar and pour apricot jam sauce round the dish.

Walnut or Groundnut Cake

  • 8 oz. flour
  • 6 oz. butter
  • 6 oz. castor sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 oz. walnuts, or roasted groundnuts
  • 1 teaspoon baking-powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence if liked
  1. Line a cake tin with greased paper.
  2. Chop the nuts coarsely.
  3. Sieve the flour, salt and baking-powder.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar until white.
  5. Beat in the eggs one at a time adding 1 teaspoonful of the sifted flour with each to prevent curdling.
  6. Stir in half the flour, nuts and essence. Mix thoroughly. Fold in remaining half of the flour.
  7. Pour the mixture into a prepared tin and bake in a moderate oven 355 degrees F., Regulo 4.
  8. Cool on a wire tray.

Groundnut Cutlets

  • 4 oz. finely chopped or pounded groundnuts
  • 2 heaped tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoonful parsley
  • 1 teaspoon mushroom ketchup or 1/2 teaspoon Worcester sauce
  • Pepper, salt and cayenne
To bind
  • 1 oz. butter
  • 1 oz. flour
  • 1/2 to 1 gill milk or stock
To coat
  • Egg and breadcrumbs
To serve
  • Tomato sauce or brown sauce
  1. Roast and chop the groundnuts finely. Chop parsley.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add flour and cook together 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the milk. Continue cooking until the mixture forms a ball and the sides of the pan are left clean.
  3. Beat in the nuts, fresh breadcrumbs, add seasoning and flavouring. Turn the mixture on to a plate and allow to cool.
  4. Divide into four or six portions.
  5. Form into cutlet-shaped pieces. Coat with beaten egg and breadcrumbs.
  6. Fry in deep fat. Drain well.
  7. Put a short piece of macaroni in the thin end of each to represent the cutlet bone.
  8. Serve on a plain d'oyley, garnished with parsley. Serve sauce separately.

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