Keep Calm and Curry On: Britain’s Longstanding Love for Indian Food

Indian FoodGreat Britain has long enjoyed food with a bit of a bite. And some two centuries ago, an Indian immigrant started what would arguably be the reason Britons have the hots for curry and other spice-filled dishes.

Cooking up Success

The Indian food sector in Britain is one of the country’s biggest industries, with one study showing Britons consuming an average of 17 grams of Indian food per week. London now has more Indian restaurants than New Delhi or Mumbai, and the country currently boasts of being home to the world’s largest Indian restaurant.

It did take quite a while before Indian cuisine reached the boiling point of success in the UK. The first Indian curry house — the Hindoostanee Coffee House in London — opened in 1810, but closed three years later due to the lack of business.

It wasn’t until the British occupation of the Indian subcontinent that curry and other similar dishes became some of Britain’s favourite dishes. Queen Victoria herself employed a team of Indian chefs who would cook up curries and other spiced dishes every day.

A Spicy Mix

Popular Indian restaurant in London, the Kennington Tandoori, shares that part of the love for Indian food is the mix of spices. Each classic delicacy brings to life the rich flavours of India, but with a modern twist to delight the English palate.

A curry dish, for example, is not just something where you put together a bunch of different spices and hope it tastes great. Instead, it’s a melody of flavours that highlights each ingredient. It should not cancel other tastes out. Each bite should deliver layers of flavour, not just a balance. It should also be a combination of taste and aroma.

In other dishes, spices are there to add flavours to the main dish. In curries, however, the spices are the main flavour, and any meat or vegetable is only meant to enhance the curry.

This freedom of blending different flavours is also part of the reason Indian food is so delicious. A curry, in essence, does not have a single, definitive recipe. Instead, you can mix whatever spices you want, which make it easier to adjust for the British palate.

The love of Britons for Indian food is a longstanding one. And from the look, smell, and taste of things, this is one that’ll simmer and grow stronger for a very long time.