The history of Indian food in Britain is now almost four hundred years old and not only has the cuisine undergone a great change in the United Kingdom but also in its native land. Apart from the reports of occasional explorers, the story really starts with the arrival in Surat of the English merchants of the East India Company in 1608 and then again and more successfully in 1612.
The first recorded Indian restaurant of the twentieth century was the Salut e Hind in Holborn in 1911 but the first to have any real influence was The Shafi opened by Mohammed Wayseem and Mohammed Rahim in 1920. Coming from North India they opened their cafe in London’s Gerard Street (now the centre of London’s Chinatown) and employed four or five ex seamen. It soon became a kind of community and Indian Student Centre. Indian students in the UK rose from 100 in 1880 to 1800 by 1931.
The fifties and sixties saw a rapid growth in Indian restaurant numbers in Britain, especially London and the South East, where over 45% of Indian restaurants are still located. Gradually the Indian restaurant concept spread all over Britain, even though those running the restaurants were often not Indian at all. Until Bangladeshi Independence in 1971 at least three quarters of ‘Indian’ restaurants in Britain were Pakistani owned. After 1971, the geographical differences became clear, with over half the restaurants owned and managed by Bangladeshis, most of whom were from the one area of Sylhet. Once you reach Birmingham, however, the situation changes with the number of Bangladeshis decreasing and Pakistanis increasing. By the time you reach Bradford and Manchester, the restaurateurs are almost entirely Pakistani , Kashmiri and North Indian and once you reach Glasgow the concentration is almost entirly Punjabi as it is in the Southall, Wembley region of London.
Top 5 Indian Dishes
Murgh Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)
This simple version of the classic Indian chicken dish uses plain yogurt, tomato sauce, ginger, garlic, Indian chili powder, garam masala, dried fenugreek leaves, and, of course, butter, for a tasty main dish served over rice.
The sweetness of mango, pineapple and red pepper is given a zing from fresh ginger and a kick from hot chili pepper. Serve this chutney with grilled chicken or seafood for an exciting burst of flavor!
Lamb (Gosht) Biryani
Biryani is a bit of a project and is time-consuming, but never been disappoints. Since it is such a festive dish, make it for dinner parties. It is a huge hit.
Tasty, spicy Indian-style ground lamb kebabs. Excellent served over basmati rice
In this simple recipe, chicken is marinated in yogurt and the spice mixture tandoori masala, then grilled over hot coals to produce the complex flavors of Tandoori chicken.