How much do you know about curry? There are some great Indian Restaurants in Shrewsbury so there's plenty of research material (!) but here are ten facts you can use to impress fellow diners the next time you hit the poppadoms....
1. The first curry recipe in Britain appeared in The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse in 1747. Although simple in its choice of ingredients (just peppers and coriander seeds) it nevertheless whetted the nation’s appetite for the spicy stuff.
2. In 1810, British Bengali entrepreneur Sake Dean Mahomed opened the first Indian curry house in England, it was called the Hindustani Coffee House and was located in Portman Square, London.
3. Many of the early Indian restaurants in the UK were aimed at ex-pats from the sub-continent. The first Indian restaurant to attract native Londoners was Veeraswamy’s Indian Restaurant in Regent Street, which was opened by Edward Palmer in 1927.
4. Over the 1950s, the number of curry fans increased dramatically thanks to its use in Coronation Chicken, the dish created to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's coronation.
5. Until the early 1970s, more than three quarters of Indian restaurants in the UK were owned and run by people of Bengali origin. Currently the dominance of Bangladeshi restaurants is declining in some parts of London and the further north you travel your food is more likely to be made by Punjabis. There are also other smaller ethnic centres such as London’s Stoke Newington, which boasts several Keralan restaurants and the Nepalese and south Indian restaurants around Euston.
6. Chicken Tikka Masala has, until recently, been said to be the nation’s favourite dish. Apparently it was invented in Glasgow by a Bengali chef, when a customer demanded a sauce for his “too dry” tikka (legend has it the cook then heated up a tin of Campbell’s condensed tomato soup and added some spices). The Korma has now taken the spot.
7. There are more Indian restaurants in Greater London than in Bombay and New Delhi combined.
8. UK curry lovers get through nearly four million poppadoms a week. That’s an awful lot of chutney.... Apparently the main accompaniment to poppadoms is Mint Chutney (pudina ki chutney). This is completely different from Raita, which relies more on cucumber than mint. Also popular is Lime Pickle.
9. Given the huge demand for curry, it is no great surprise that there are about 9,500 Indian restaurants in the UK, employing an estimated 70,000 staff.
10. British-style curry restaurants are also popular in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. There is also bizarrely a cluster of Indian restaurants in Santa Monica, Los Angeles that serve the English ex pat community.
Why not visit www.kasturi2.co.uk for some Shrewsbury curry talk?
Many thanks to Abdul Husen for passing on his Indian cuisine knowledge. You can check this out personally as Abdul is co-owner of Cafe Saffron in Shrewsbury town centre.
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