You can’t deny that Britain loves their curry. The Indian food industry in the UK has grown into a reported £7 billion industry that includes 15,000 Indian restaurants; including one of the biggest Indian restaurants in the world.
But the strangest thing about Britain’s love interest with Indian food – most of it isn’t Indian. ‘Indian restaurants’ show an interesting geographical pattern. In the South, the majority of owners are Bangladeshi; in Birmingham there are more Pakistani owners; around Manchester and Bradford, the restaurants are nearly all Pakistani, Kashmiri and North Indian; and in Glasgow, the majority of Indian restaurants are owned by Punjabi owners.
Britain has seen Indian food evolve from an occasional treat into a staple of Britain’s traditional dishes. Even at home, curry is on the menu in most households at least once a week, with ready-meals and Asian cook books being popular choices amongst the people of Britain too.
Most of the curries you find on menus have their roots in the UK. The Balti, a rich tangy curry was supposedly invented in Birmingham; the Jalfrezi, a dry and spicy curry, hails from Bradford; Glasgow is the birthplace of the famous Chicken Tikka Masala, a creamy marinated dish which for many years was Britain’s favourite curry.
Travel around Britain and you can find different variations on nearly every curry imaginable. Chefs have set up restaurants and made a real name for themselves in the UK thanks to the publics infatuation with great curry. Many of the first chefs to cook Indian food in the UK were following simple recipes, but those traditional dishes have evolved with the culture to create a host of curries that are now famous around the world.
The traditional Curry House image of flowery peeling wallpaper and sticky carpets of the 70’s and 80’s have now been replaced with fine dining Asian cuisine, five starred fusion restaurants and Asian buffets just like Royal Nawaab’s Halal Restaurant Manchester.