British Indian Food and How It All Began

Indian cuisine is really popular in the UK, but British Indian food differs from authentic Indian cuisine. While some dishes are Anglicized versions of typical Indian dishes, others are Indian takes on typical British dishes, so there is plenty of fusion.

Fish and meat are cooked as curries with Indian vegetables, and yogurt, almonds and coconut are typical ingredients in this cuisine. British roast beef for example can be modified with chilies and cumin to make a curried beef dish.

Indian roast type dishes, rices, breads and curries all offer a distinctive Indian taste. Some examples of British Indian food include mulligatawny, fish rissoles, coronation chicken, kedgeree, rose cookies, and salted beef tongue. The term ‘British Indian food’ can also apply to recipes adapted during the British Raj in India which achieved popularity in the UK afterwards.

Indian chutney is usually sweetened or cooked in British Indian recipes but not highly spiced. Major Grey’s Chutney is a good example, although spicy or sour fresh chutneys are not often seen. Piccalilli was an early attempt at an Indian condiment.

indian-curry-recipe

The First Indian Restaurants in the UK

Veeraswamy and Chutney Mary were a couple of the early restaurants in England serving this fare, although most Indian restaurants serve standard Indian dishes with are better known to British palates.

An Indian immigrant called Dean Mahomed opened the first curry house in the UK and their 1809 newspaper advert advertised “Indian dishes, in the highest perfection… unequalled to any curries ever made in England” to attract colonial returnees.

Bamboo-cane sofas and hookah pipes were provied at the Hindostanee Coffee House as well as various meat and veggie curries.

History of British Indian Food

Go back a couple hundred years and curries were already becoming a popular part of British cuisine. Some coffee houses served curries as part of their menu and ladies freshly returned from the colonies would attempt to recreate the kind of meals they had enjoyed on the subcontinent.

The cookbook ‘The Art of Cookery’ by Hannah Glasse which was published in 1747 has recipes for pilaus and curries. Early recipes were mild and relied more heavily on herbs than spices. Salt, peppercorns, lemon juice, and coriander seeds were popular, but ginger, turmeric, fenugreek, cayenne, and cumin were also being used by the 1800s.

While food in Indian was often fried in fat or ghee, the British preferred other cooking methods. Take into account the spices used had been on a boat for six months so instead of a fresh, aromatic zing, the flavors would have been more subdued. This was one of the main differences between British Indian food and regular Indian food.

The spice trade at the time saw a variety of European powers setting up in India by colonizing or creating trading companies. Add this to the Mughal conquest and various new fusion dishes appeared such as vindaloo, a traditional Portuguese meat dish with Goan spices, or biryani with Persian ingredients.

British Indian Food: What is Curry Exactly?

Indians have separate names for their dishes, so while they would call something a dopiaza or korma, the British would often use the catch-all term ‘curry’ for anything made with Indian spices. Some people think the word comes from the French ‘cuire’ which means to cook, while others believe it comes from ‘kari’ which is the Tamil word for sauce.

How British Indian Food Developed

british-indian-curryIn the 1800s British living in India would enjoy curried dishes for every meal, but after being open for just 3 months the Hindostanee restaurant in London was not enjoying the success its proprietor Mr Mahomed believed it would. He filed for bankruptcy.

People did not often eat out during that era. They would cook at home or have their own chef cook in their home. The restaurant was still there until 1833 but with a different owner.

In the 1800s Queen Victoria (also the Empress of India) had Indian staff to prepare British Indian food on a daily basis, thus increasing its popularity further among the middle classes. She also build an Indian themed state room decorated by a famous Punjab architect.

Curry continued to become more and more popular until 1857 when Indian solders were rebelling against British rule in India. British Indian food then went out of vogue.

It was popular again by the 1870s when PM Disraeli chose to make India the brightest jewel in the British crown and involve it more in politics.

Despite this, the British at the time were losing interest in Indian food and discovering the joys of French cuisine. Many were replacing their Indian chefs with French ones.

Curries were not that popular at the start of the 1900s, largely because a house smelling of curry was an unappealing prospect. Red meat, potatoes and homegrown veggies like cabbage were the dominant ingredients in the British diet.

Bangladeshi Immigrants Brought New Curry Flair

At the same time though Indian sailers were dumped at London, Cardiff and other major ports and some jumped ship. Many of them came from Sylhet which is now an area in Bangladesh, and they opened cafes for other Asians to eat at.

They tweaked the recipes to suit the Westernized palate and gained British fans too, buying bombed-out cafes and fish and chip shops in the 1940s, where they would sell fish and chips, pies and chips, and also curry and rice. British Indian food had entered a new era.

These cafes stayed open late to attract people in after the pubs would close. The late night aroma of British Indian food would be too tempting to pass up. Many Bangladeshis entered Britain in the 1970s, most heading for the East End area of London.

A lot of them bought or worked in restaurants, cafes and chip shops, and a lot of them, or their descendants, are still there today dominating the British Indian food industry. Today about 70% of the Indian restaurants are owned by Bangladeshis.

British Indian Recipes Today

Foreign secretary Robin Cook once described chicken tikka masala as a ‘true British national dish’ and you can find Indian restaurants in every town and city, and find Indian ingredients and frozen Indian meals at any grocery store in the UK.

The British envision the glamor of the Raj and also find these dishes familiar and tasty, so it is fair to say the British love affair with Indian food is not going to end any time soon. Head into any fish and chip shop and you will see ‘curry sauce’ as a topping option for your chips.

British Indian Chicken Tikka Masala

This is one of the most iconic Indian recipes in Britain and British Indian food at its best. Chicken tikka makes a great baked potato or sandwich filling, or you can add the masala sauce to serve it in curry format. This dish is chicken chunks which are marinated in yogurt and spices before being baked in a tandoor oven then served in a masala sauce.

A coriander and tomato sauce is common but there is actually not a set recipe. There are nearly 50 different ways to make the dish with chicken being the only standard ingredient in each one!

Tomatoes (usually pureed) along with spices and coconut are usually used, and paprika powder, tomato concentrate and turmeric might also be in there. Lamb, fish or paneer (a kind of Indian cheese) might be used instead of the chicken.

It is not know how this British Indian food dish originated. Perhaps it was first created in an Indian restaurant in London. Chicken tikka has always been prepared in India but the masala sauce might have came about because the British like some kind of ‘gravy’ on their meat. Chinese stir-fry is the most popular foreign recipe in the UK but chicken tikka masala is the second most popular.

British Indian Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken tikka masala is the second most popular foreign dish in the UK, and comprises spiced chicken in a delicious tomato-based sauce. It is easy to rustle up this tasty dish yourself at home.
Author:
Cuisine: British Indian Fusion
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 10
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 1 oz (25g) butter
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 chopped onions
  • 2 de-seeded, chopped red bell peppers
  • 6 tablespoons chicken tikka masala paste
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons mango chutney
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch (2½ cm) cubes
  • 2 x 14 oz (400g) cans chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons tomato concentrate
  • 5 fl oz (150ml) plain yogurt
  • 5 fl oz (150ml) heavy cream
  • Salt, to taste
  • Chopped cilantro leaves, to serve
Instructions
  1. Heat the butter and oil in a big pot, then add the onions and a pinch of salt.
  2. Cover the pot and cook the onions for about 18 minutes or until they are golden and tender.
  3. Stir in the bell peppers and curry paste and cook for 5 minutes to mellow out the curry paste flavor.
  4. Stir in the chicken and cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes, tomato concentrate and 7 fl oz (200ml) of water.
  6. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked.
  7. Stir in the cream, yogurt and mango chutney and warm the mixture through.
  8. Add salt and/or black pepper to taste if necessary, then scatter with cilantro leaves and serve with naan bread and/or basmati rice.
Notes
You can freeze this chicken tikka masala if you want
Even though chicken tikka masala is typically a mild dish, you can add some sliced red chili pepper to ramp up the heat if you prefer a spicier result
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/10 of the Recipe... Calories: 345 Fat: 19g Saturated fat: 8g Carbohydrates: 13g Sugar: 10g Sodium: 1.04g Fiber: 3g Protein: 31g

 

Some More Hot Content For You

Other Posts You Might Like
  • Shrimp Sandwich RecipeSucculent Shrimp Sandwiches
    Shrimp, or prawns as they are also known, are great for making succulent shrimp sandwiches. Simply peel and cook them, then toss with mayonnaise, adding in some salt and black pepper for flavor, and spread this over white bread (or whole wheat if you prefer) to make the most delicious little succulent shrimp sandwiches. These succulent shrimp sandwiches are nice for lunch or as a snack, or you could enjoy them mid-afternoon with tea or coffee. If you have large shrimp, cut them in half. Smaller ones can be left as they are. You can use thawed, fresh or canned shrimp in this succulent shrimp sandwiches recipe but ensure they are well drained .....
  • A Delicious Recipe for Braised Stuffed Calamari
    The braised stuffed calamari in this recipe sure looks good. Breadcrumbs, olives, capers, garlic, parsley and more are combined for a tasty filling for your squid. Laura Vitale talks you through everything you need for the recipe and then shows you how to prepare your ingredients to make the filling. I liked this braised stuffed calamari video because I found it very easy to follow and I love the resulting stuffed squid. I think it looks great! And also because this is so similar to the way I usually make my own squid so Laura Vitale is on to a winner here. Just watch the video through and then as soon as it finishes you will wish to .....
  • Types of Showers
    Showers have become popular additions to bathrooms all over the world as more people become aware of saving water. Another reason for having a shower fitted is to save space, and for many people this is vital. You can choose between a variety of different types of showers to suit your needs and budget. Before rushing out to purchase a new shower, you will need to consider several different elements, which will determine the style of shower that you choose. You will need to think about the amount of people in the household, and your current heating system. The right shower should cater to all your needs and suit you perfectly. Choosing a .....
  • Best Julienne Peelers
    Everyone needs one of the best julienne peelers in their kitchen drawer in 2017! One of these little gadgets will glide effortlessly over your vegetables to peel them or give you matchstick-thin pieces or little strips. Use these for making coleslaw, for prepping veggies for a salad or for making matching shapes for another use. You can also stir-fry or saute them and they cook very quickly when they are cut so finely. When reading reviews for these the main thing is how well the device in question works, and also how easy it is to use. There are different ones to choose from and whichever one you choose depends how often you plan to use it .....
  • Seafood Soup RecipeSeafood Soup Recipe
    This seafood soup recipe is made from scratch, so you will get all that amazing seafood flavour you love so much. Whether you are using lobster, crab, prawns or a mixture, the flavor is amazing. The better the seafood broth you use in this seafood soup recipe, the better it is going to taste. Whenever you are basing a whole recipe on a broth you need to make sure you use something of quality. It is so important. Great Ingredients Blend Together There are quite a few different ingredients in this seafood soup recipe but use them all and you will be so glad you did. The most important ingredients are the seafood and whatever you use to make .....
  • Cheese BoardHow to Prepare a Cheese Board
    A cheese board or cheese platter is always a popular sight at the table, whether served as a starter or after the meal. There are no hard and fast rules about setting up a cheese platter but we offer you some tips about putting together a tasty selection of cheeses. Learn how to prepare a cheese board and you will be able to rustle up this snack, appetizer or dessert alternative anytime the mood strikes. Choosing the Cheeses Aim for diversity in appearance, flavor and style. You might want to offer a hard cheese, a soft cheese and a blue cheese for example. Or you can serve three semi hard cheeses which are similar in texture but offer .....
  • Dipping Sauce for WontonsCrab Rangoon Wontons Made with Gyoza Wrappers
    I had a problem a couple days back. I was in the mood for crispy wontons and having recently bought a deep fat fryer and knowing I had some wonton skins in the freezer, I didn’t think anything could go wrong. However, the wonton wrappers were broken! I still fancied some crab rangoon wontons though. Can you use gyoza wrappers for wontons, I wondered. Would crab rangoon wontons made with gyoza wrappers actually work? Only one way to find out! Making Wontons with Gyoza Skins Gyoza wrappers are round not square and they are thicker than wonton wrappers. When I make gyoza I usually steam them or make potstickers so I was not sure how they .....
  • Healthy Soba SaladEasy Soba Salad
    I love all kinds of noodles but soba noodles are my favorite. The word ‘soba’ means ‘buckwheat’ in Japanese and it also refers to thin, buckwheat noodles. In Japan the word refers to any thin noodles. These can be served hot or cold, with a dipping sauce or in soup or you could make an easy soba salad. Buckwheat can be harvested 4 times a year because it takes 3 months to reach maturity and be ready for harvesting. Soba noodles are sold at railway stations in Japan, and they also feature on the menus in high-end restaurants, making them a versatile component in a variety of dishes, not just easy soba salad recipes. .....
  • Perfect Cheese Fondue
    Cheese fondue is an amazing dish made with melted cheeses and other ingredients, and served with chunks of bread for dipping. Making fondue is really simple, and largely just a matter of adding your ingredients to a fondue dish and letting them melt and blend. Some fondue sets use a flame while others are electric. You can also get different kinds, so if you like to make chocolate fondue or meat fondue, you might like to collect the fondue kits, since the thick earthenware cheese fondue bowl isn’t the one needed to make meat or chocolate fondue. Our recipe for cheese fondue is very simple to make and you will love the authentic cheese .....
  • How to Make an English BreakfastHow to Make an English Breakfast
    An English breakfast, often known as a full breakfast in England, is a breakfast meal which usually includes back bacon, fried, scrambled or poached eggs, sausages, and sometimes tomatoes, mushrooms, hash browns (yes they’re American not English, but popular these days!), black pudding, baked beans, toast or fried bread, and tea or coffee. Want to know how to make an English breakfast yourself? Read on for some tips. Bubble and squeak (mashed potatoes and cooked vegetables mashed together and fried) sometimes feature, while in the North you might get fried or broiled oatcakes instead of fried bread or toast. How to Make an English .....
Search
DutchEnglishFrenchGermanItalianPortugueseSpanish

Tasty Query - recipes search engine