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The great British Indian institution

The history of Indian foods in England reaches back further than most people can guess. We can be forgiven for walking down almost any street in Britain and taking the sight of an Indian restaurant or takeaway for granted.

It seems amazing to think that Indian food has been associated with this country for four centuries? The radical change has not been confined to this country, it can also be seen in native India.

Indian settlers first begun arriving in England in the seventeenth century, after merchants had begun trading in the indian town of Surat. This new company called itself the East India Company, and offered employment to lascars or local sailors to work as crewmembers. During the eighteenth century the population of Lascars grew faster than at any other time, although ironically, they were among the poorest in society.

As Britain’s influence in India began to expand, the same interest in Indian food began to grow in this country. This led to the first publication of recipes and the creation of curry powder in 1780.

In the latter part of the twentieth century there were three main reasons why there was a growth in the Indian restaurant market in this country. The growth in personal affluence was the first reason. The second reason can be attributed to the cosmopolitan nature of the people, and the third was the Tandoor.

The Tandoor originated in the Middle East and derived its name from the Babylonian word ‘tinuru’ meaning fire. After its introduction in the sixties, it gave to us the classic ‘chicken tandoori’ which became a national icon. This has now become a timeless favourite in all Indian takeaways throughout the land.

Because of the success of one or two individuals, the Indian food sector is one of the fastest growing in this country. The popularity of both Indian restaurants and take away food has ensured that it will be an English institution for many years to come!

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