Indian food is extremely popular in the UK, with people craving everything from mild dishes like chicken korma to spicy biryanis and jalfrezis. But how did aromatic food with so much flavour become such a staple in British culture? Little India London, for example, is one of Kengsington’s culinary hotspots, serving up a range of mouth-watering delights. So let’s delve deeper into the popularity of curry dishes in the UK.
Indian Recipes Brought Back From Overseas
One of the great things about travel is that global recipes and cuisines find themselves crossing borders. New dishes and ways of eating are introduced to different audiences and cultures start to adapt. When it comes to curry, British people living in India during the 18th and 19th centuries brought food they missed back to the UK with them. This piqued the interest of UK residents.
Many boatmen from Bangladesh serving on British ships also remained in Britain after the Second World War. These boatmen made a living by renovating cafes and selling curry dishes with rice. Others took over fish and chip shops, serving curry sauce with chips – a treat that’s still popular today. This is how the Indian restaurant scene in the UK first started.
Curry Becomes a Favourite in Britain
In a country where meat (if you were lucky) and vegetables were the norm for many years, curry was undoubtedly an unusual concept to start with. But through clever adaptations and new creations, Indian food was quickly embraced by the British people. Recipes were regularly changed to suit the British palate, however, with curries being less spicy and more creamy. Chicken Tikka Masala is an example of a dish that is not traditional but was inspired by Indian flavours. It became a firm favourite in the 1970s and by 2021 was the nation’s favourite dish. It likely derives from Butter Chicken, which is a popular dish in the northern Indian subcontinent.
Curry Remains a Firm British Favourite
Curry is no longer seen as an unusual food type. Indeed, Indian food is everywhere with both dine-in and takeout options readily available. From delicious starters such as onion bhajis and naan bread to sides such as saag aloo, there’s no shortage of Indian delights to choose from these days. But did you know that much-loved dishes such as the Balti were not available until the 1980s? This was invented by Pakistani restaurateurs and has been adapted to save time, with pre-cooked meats being added to pre-prepared sauces to create a range of Balti dishes.
The variety of Indian food available made it even more popular and attracted new audiences. Head to Little India Kensington for example, and you’ll see a varied and exciting menu that appeals to all kinds of tastes. From those who love super spicy to those who prefer a milder curry, there’s something for everyone. And while some diners prefer a saucy dish, others prefer something on the drier side such as a Biryani or a Mixed Grill.
Home Indian Cooking on the Rise
When a BBC cooking series called Indian Cooking hosted by Madhur Jaffrey aired in the 1980s, the UK went mad for Indian ingredients. Ready meals were introduced to supermarkets and spices became increasingly available for people to use at home. Today, even the most inexperienced of chefs can knock up a rustic curry. But if you want to experience real authentic food, get a taste of India in South Kensington – book your table at Little India London today and experience the very best of Indian cooking.