Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • "Going for an Indian" or "having a curry" is almost as stereotypically British as roast dinners or fish and chips.

  • There are around 12,000 curry houses in Britain.

  • The word came from the Tamil "kari", which meant a spiced sauce,

  • but gradually, the term was adapted and used as a generic term for any stew-like food from the Indian subcontinent,

  • rather ignoring such subtleties as regional differences and completely different flavors, textures, cooking methods, and ingredients.

  • The first definite mention of "curry" in English is [in] 1598.

  • But the first recipe for curry published in Britain wasn't until 1747, by which time, Brits, long-time traders with India, were slowly taking over the country.

  • Thousands of British men and women spent time in India; they had Indian cooks and servants.

  • And while some tried to maintain Western eating habits, most quickly embraced the taste of their new home.

  • When they returned to Britain, they brought their new love of Indian food back with them.

  • Those who'd lived in India knew very well that not all Indian dishes were curry,

  • and when the first, albeit short-lived, Indian restaurant in Britain opened in London in 1810,

  • its menu contained "khichdi", "chutnee", and "pulao", dishes later known by the anglicized names "kedgeree", "chutney", and "pilaf".

  • Manuscript books kept by those in the know also differentiated between dishes, but they were very much a minority, and in Britain, curry became a catch-all term for almost anything with Indian spices.

  • Slowly, certain dishes, especially chicken curry, which used an elderly fowl which had stopped laying eggs, entered the mainstream repertoire.

  • Ready-made curry powders were widely sold.

  • British palates were not used to Indian spices, and the early recipes are more like gently-flavored meaty stews laden with turmeric, ginger, and galangal, with cayenne for a hit.

  • By the 19th century, curry was in every cookbook, mainly as a leftover dish.

  • The Anglo-Indian cuisine of this era was a hybrid, using pickled cucumbers to replace mango, apple instead of tamarind, and ready-made spice blends galore.

  • It was great, but had very little in common with its Eastern roots.

  • Queen Victoria took a different approach, regularly eating Indian dishes prepared by the cook to her Indian attendants, who'd joined the royal staff at her Golden Jubilee in 1887.

  • There were a few eating houses run by Indiansmainly for other Indiansin port towns, but it took until the 1920s for high-profile restaurants to open, catering for a British market.

  • By 1946, there were around 20 Indian restaurants in London.

  • Boomtime for curry came after the Second World War, when the partition of India brought migrants from Punjab and Sylhet to Britain.

  • In the 1970s, civil war in Bangladesh saw many Bangladeshis flee to Britain, and even today, many apparently generic Indian restaurants are really Bangladeshi.

  • Curry in its 1970s form was cheap and cheerful, adapted for British tastes.

  • In 2001, the then foreign secretary Robin Cook declared boldly that Britain's national dish was chicken tikka masala, a classic example of an Indian dish, buttered chicken, meeting British tastes.

  • In this case, with the addition of cream and, allegedly, cream of tomato soup.

  • In the last decade or so, the British relationship to Indian food has changed.

  • Most of us have grown out of wanting something so hot it'll hospitalize us.

  • Leading Indian chefs are teaching us that there is so much more to Indian food than the comforting predictability of the average restaurant menu.

  • Maybe after 250 years, we've simply come full circle.

"Going for an Indian" or "having a curry" is almost as stereotypically British as roast dinners or fish and chips.

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 US indian curry britain british india indian food

How curry from India conquered Britain | Edible Histories Episode 6 | BBC Ideas

  • 3250 150
    Seraya posted on 2022/04/21
Video vocabulary