A Brief & Fascinating History of Indian Food in the UK

Just one of the amazing benefits to living in Great Britain is the cultural melting pot of different lifestyles and backgrounds, to be found in every city throughout the country.

Whether in the form of a takeaway brought directly to your door, or as a celebratory meal out in town with family and friends, Indian food is among the most popular types of food consumed in the UK. 

Here is a brief yet fascinating history of Indian food in this country. 

The Initial Introduction 

Religious conflicts amongst warring factions during the height of the Crusades (around 1100) were actually responsible for the initial introduction of traditional curry powder and eastern spices into Britain. 

Soldiers returning home would bring such items back for their loved ones, as well as themselves and enjoyed ‘exotic’ meals thereafter, which were referred to as Indian cuisine. Obviously, these types of foods would be entirely unrecognizable from the authentic Indian food available everywhere in the country today. 

Form the beginning of the 17th century, British soldiers, long-term residents and family members and of course, immigrants from the East, brought even more recipes and single ingredients and the imagination of the British became inspired by these delicious meals. 

Interestingly, the first ever published cookbook to feature Indian cuisine, ‘The Art of Cookery’ was written by Hannah Glasse, way back in 1747. 

Indian Restaurants in Britain 

In 1810, in the upmarket area of London now known as Mayfair, the first Indian restaurant opened and was owned and managed by an ex-soldier in the East India Company army. This marked the first time that British citizens were exposed to authentic Indian cooking, instead of the inaccurate and watered-down versions that came before. 

When choosing an Indian restaurant in Bristol, you should look no further than urban-tandoor.com, who combine authentic tastes and ingredients of traditional Indian food with a relaxed and comfortable setting and ambience. 

Throughout the following years, more and more Asian families relocated to the UK, and with them came new and exciting Indian dishes and evermore versions of curries. By the beginning of the twentieth century, around 75,000 Asians were residing in this country. 

Britain Embraces Indian Cuisine 

The now entirely normalised culture of eating out with friends and family only became popular and prominent towards the end of the 1960s, and this is when the British people took Indian food into their hearts and their kitchens. 

Together with an increased demand for more Indian restaurants due to an influx of South Asian workers from factories, as soon as Britain embraced Indian food, such eateries appeared right across the country, in towns and villages, as well as larger cities. 

At the end of 1982, there were around three and a half thousand Indian restaurants in Great Britain and over the next couple of decades, ‘going for an Indian’ became a firm element of modern British culture. 

Fascinatingly, there are currently a higher number of Indian restaurants and takeaways in Greater London alone than in Mumbai and Delhi combined. 

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