Britain and Curry: A Love Story – Part 1

In honour of National Curry Week our blog is going to be all things curry! Yes, we know, we’re always all things curry because we love curry, but even more so this week!

Today we’re going to take a brief historical tour of the UK’s curry obsession. It’s sure to be a VERY brief historical tour, because this is a blog, and we’re not historians, nevertheless we’ll do our best. Let’s begin!

Our story begins not here, but in India…

…when during the reign of the British Raj many Brits were introduced to Indian food, or milder hybrids of Indian and British foods that were cooked by their Indian staff. As we well know, spicy food can become something of an addiction, and many of the returnees from India brought back some of the recipes that they’d grown to love; some of which were served in coffee houses and published in English cookbooks, such as Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery which was published in 1747, and included mild variations on the Indian classics.

London in 1809

saw the establishment of the UK’s first ever curry house – The Hindostanee Coffee House, which was the first restaurant solely dedicated to selling Indian food. Thus began the spread of the curry house, with several opening in the following years (some of which are still open to this day). The 19th Century saw the further popularisation of the curry, with Queen Victoria employing an Indian chef as part of her permanent staff.

By the 20th Century

The influx of Indian, Pakistani and Bengali immigrants saw the old mingling of cultures that had made curry so popular to begin with taken steps further as completely new curries were created to appeal to the British population – perhaps the most famous of which is the Chicken Tikka Masala, a curry house classic that was supposedly invented in Glasgow in 1971.


The Shish Mahal, Glasgow is reportedly the birthplace of Chicken Tikka Masala


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