Indian British food history by IndianMart, UK
Indian British food- for the love of curry
BY: Indian Mart
Nov 20, 2018

Indian British food stories…

  • Exploration of new foods and discovery of  tucked away hidden gems in the foody world has flourished within the media over recent years. It has now become the norm to meet up for socials at those “too good not to share” restaurants and bars. For all food lovers, it goes without saying that experimenting new flavours and exploring cultural foods is a bit of an adventure, right? Lets get our Indian British food on.

For the love of curry, let’s unveil Indian food in the UK.

  • Stepping back to 1733, the first presence of Indian recipes was discovered amidst coffee houses situated in Piccadilly, London. Due to high costs, cooks were unable to travel to and from India with those they worked for. As a result these recipes became particularly popular amongst the travelling persons. Bringing their knowledge and love to the UK for a home from home experience of Indian foods.
  • The popularity of Indian food & infusions left England in adornment for more. It wasn’t long until more coffee shops caught wind of this, and curry recipes were found in an English cookbook. The art of cookery made plain and easy – Hannah Glasse, dating back to 1747. This wonderful book contains three recipes of Indian pilau. Consequently, later editions explored curries and Indian spices.  These recipes contained more herbs than spices making the flavours quite a lot milder.

It was believed that curry would assist digestion and improve blood circulation

  • Moving forward to the 1840’s. Indian sellers began sharing with British consumers the health and dietary benefits of this collection of fragrant ingredients. (Yes, this sounds much better than today’s idea of super slimming magic pills!). It was believed that Indian food and curry would assist digestion and improve blood circulation along with many other benefits to health.
  • Making curry was also brilliant for using up left over and cold meats. For this reason the well known Jalfrezi was created. From growth in this cuisines recognition there stemmed an impressive increase of Turmeric imports.
  • By the 1890’s even the Royals were tucking into the delights of Indian food. Queen Victoria enjoyed Indian cuisine regularly. Cooked by her servants at her private Osbourne home, which enthused the British and as a result demand grew evermore.

After WWII they then went on to start their own businesses, selling curry after pub hours

  • By the 20th Century, Britain was now home to over 70,000 south Asians, meaning diversity in cultures was intertwining. London Indian restaurants took ex-seamen from Bangladesh into employment. After WWII they then went on to start their own businesses, selling curry after pub hours, which then lead onto a bit of a trend, and I must say I’m no stranger to this myself!
  • As time then passed Indian food evolved in Britain, many dishes catering for the ingredients readily available, but also the pallets of the British.
  • Restaurants subsequently evolved providing authentic fusions based on dishes from India. The changes to the combinations of curries, changes to names and also ingredients to cater to a meat eating less spicy society.
  • With collaboration and unity of this incredible evolution, these restaurants scattered all over the U.K. You might even be surprised to know that Glasgow is home to the famous chicken tikka masala, all thanks to Mr Ahmed Ali.
  • So there you have it, a brief culture trip through the history of curry within the UK!
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