China Chilo

Looking for dishes to include in my occasional series on Great British Classics, I was much taken with a recipe I came across several times. Dorothy Hartley’s Food in England describes China Chilo as a clear white and green dish, ‘much fancied by the ladies’. Eliza Acton gives a recipe for it in Modern Cookery (1845), and something rather similar features in Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple of a century earlier. It is still a good dish today, perfectly suited to summer dining. I have based my recipe on Eliza Acton’s. Originally mutton was used. If you can get it, use it.


  • 1 lb / 455 g lean boneless lamb
  • 2 oz / 60 g butter
  • ¼ pt / 140 ml white wine, lamb stock or water
  • 1 cucumber
  • 3 Little Gem lettuces, cut in half and washed
  • lb / 570 g shelled peas
  • 8 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
  • 4 oz / 110 g button mushrooms, wiped and halved or quartered, if you wish
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • chervil or parsley, to garnish


Mince the lamb or dice it very small. Cook it in the butter until it loses its raw look. Pour on half the liquid, cover and simmer for 50–60 minutes. (Mutton will take longer.) Meanwhile, peel the cucumber, cut it in half lengthways, scrape out and discard the seeds, and dice the flesh. Slice the lettuces. Add the vegetables and remaining liquid to the lamb after it has cooked for 50–60 minutes, and cook for a further 20–30 minutes. Season to taste and serve in a ring of boiled or steamed rice, garnished with herbs.


Sprinkle a little curry powder on the meat as it cooks in the butter at the beginning of the recipe.