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A brief history and journey of the

restaurants and curry houses
across the country
Key Locations
Consumption Patterns
Current Trends
Top Ten Restaurants
 According to a report produced by the British Hospitality Association (BHA), Britons spent
£31 billion on eating out in 2006, compared with some £7 billion in 1981
 By 1612 when the English merchants were enjoying their first meal in Surat, English
cuisine was already redolent with cumin, caraway, ginger, pepper, cinnamon, cloves and
nutmeg with spices.

 The 'heat' of ancient Indian cuisine came from black pepper, cardamom and cumin and it
was the Portuguese in 1501 who first introduced chilli which is the hallmark of ethnic
cuisine today.
 Such was the importance of India to Britain throughout 17th and 18th centuries that it
was inevitable that returning merchants and soldiers would wish to recreate the spicy
foods they enjoyed on their travels and commercial curry powder was featured in many
cookery books from the 1780's onwards.
 People from the Indian sub-continent have been present in Britain on a regular basis
since 18th century as servents and as travelling wealthy princes but were recorded in
Scotland in 'considerable numbers' as long before as 1540.
 The main boom came in the 1950s with higher wages in British industry and cheaper
travel from India. The main surge of Pakistani immigration was destined for the textile
mills of West Yorkshire and Lancashire and engineering in the Midlands, boosted by the
Voucher Scheme of 1962.
 Bangladeshis originally came to Britain as Bengalis - lascars for the East Indian Company
- and the startling fact is that the large majority come from the same region - Sylhet - with
80% being Muslim.
 By 2001 there were 1,053,411 Indians ; 747,285 Pakistanis ; and 283,063 Bangladeshis
in Britain with an estimated growth by 2050 of 41% for Indians, 89% Pakistanis and 125%
Bangladeshis. The result of this for Britain is not only a very rich multi-cultural society
occupying many professions but also the growth of an unrivalled catering and restaurant

 The history of Indian food in Britain is now nearly 400 years old
and not only has the cuisine undergone a great change in the
United Kingdom but also in its native land.
 The first recorded Indian restaurant of the twentieth century was
the Salut e Hind in Holborn in 1911 but the first to have any real
influence was The Shafi opened by Mohammed
Wayseem and Mohammed Rahim in 1920.
 Coming from North India they opened their cafe in London‟s
Gerard Street (now the centre of London‟s Chinatown) and
employed four or five ex seamen. It soon became a kind of
community and Indian Student Centre. Indian students in the UK
rose from 100 in 1880 to 1800 by 1931.
 Other establishments for the seamen, usually from the province of
Sylhet, opened throughout the years between the wars, such
as Abdul Rashim and Koni Khan‟s coffee shop serving curry and
rice on Victoria Dock Road around 1920.

 Gradually the development of Indian restaurants spread outwards from London
between the two Great Wars and many of the restaurants that have influenced those
established today were created.
 Amongst those in London pre 1939 were The Durbaron Percy Street owned by Asuk
Mukerjee from Calcutta, and his compatriot from the same city Nogandro Goush who
owned The Dilkush in Windmill Street. Asif Khan from Punjab had The Shalimar on
Wardour Street and Jobbul Haque of Urrishi owned The Bengal India on Percy Street.
 These restaurants were, not surprisingly, mainly for Asians but in 1927 the first
fashionable Indian restaurant opened when Edward Palmer opened Veeraswamy‟s
Indian Restaurant in London‟s Regent Street where it still thrives today owned by Ranjit
Mathrani and Namita Panjabi
 Edward Palmer had been greatly encouraged by friends and acquaintances after his
successful running of the Mughal Palace in The Empire Exhibition at Wembley a few
years before and he brought staff from India and created a traditional atmosphere such
that it became called “The ex-Indian higher serviceman’s curry club”. Many of the
people from all over India who were later to become the backbone of the new
„curry’ restaurant industry, learned their trade at The Veeraswamy

 There has been a marked growth in the number of covers per restaurant in the past
five years such that actual numbers have been only growing at around 2% p.a. but
total available covers over 10% p.a. The year 2000-2001 onwards, however, saw
renewed growth in numbers.
 The Indian restaurant sector has been the success story of the second half of the last
century, growing from near nothing to one of the biggest industries in Britain
employing over 60,000 people.
London South / East
London South/ West
East Anglia
North West
Northern Ireland
Most Popular Dishes
Chicken Tikka
Chicken Jalfrezi
Chicken Korma
Meat Madras
Chicken Dhansak
Tandoori Chicken
• The total market for ethnic foods in UK in 2009 was £1.64bn an increase of
10% on previous year.
• In 2006 the estimated value of the retail Indian food market stood at £493.8
• UK Indian foods market will grow by an estimated 6% to reach a value of
£524.6 million at current prices by 2011.
 Nearly 65% of restaurants in the UK are
owned and run by Bangladeshis, most
restaurants being south of the Midlands.
 Other cities such as Bradford,
Manchester and Glasgow are mainly
Pakistani, Kashmiri or Punjabi giving
variations in style.
 Numbers have improved again after a
brief period of rocketing as quality has
improved and family-style units have
 It was estimated that 170 million meals
were served in 1997/8.
 The annual turnover of the Indian
restaurant industry including drink is
approx £3bn p.a. giving a total Indian
Food & Drink sector annual turnover of
over £3.5bn.
Year No of Restaurants
1960 500
1970 1200
1980 3000
1990 5100
1996 7300
1997 7600
2000 7940
2001 8432 (24% take-
2004 8750
2007 9350
2009 9500
2011 9400
 It should be music to the ears of Eric Pickles who, in reports that delighted headline
writers in November, suggested a "curry college” to train British people to
become chefs in Indian restaurants.
 While his Department for Communities and Local Government is yet to confirm, or
expand on, the idea, which is believed to be part of the government's integration
strategy, it issued a statement saying: "The government is continuing to look at how it
can best support British talent in Asian cuisine, working with the sector to ensure
employees have the right skills."
 The bland words hide a growing crisis in the country's curry industry.
 The figures for the sector may seem robust – the trade magazine Spice Business,for
instance, suggest that, every week, 2.5 million customers eat in one of 10,000
restaurants employing 80,000 staff, making the industry worth £3.6bn (not all sources
are so generous – the industry authority the Curry Club puts the sector's turnover at
£2.5bn, while food industry analysts Horizons FS put it at £777m).
 And by 2002, Indian food in supermarkets alone was worth £600m – 80% of which was
ready-meal curries.

1. The Brilliant, Southall, Middlesex, London
 The Brilliant lives up to its name. Princess Diana has dined
here, as has Prince Charles, numerous prime ministers
(Blair, Major, Heath) and a multitude of Bollywood stars.
 Although they specialise in Punjabi food, many of the
dishes have a uniquely Kenyan twist. Having turned down a
deal to make a million jars of their celebrated mango
pickle for Sainsbury's, the restaurant has a family feel and
was the first in the UK to obtain a licence to hold civil

 · The Brilliant Restaurant, 72-76 Western Road, Southall,
Middlesex; +44 (0)208 574 1928.

2. Tayyabs, Whitechapel, London
 A Pakistani restaurant on a Whitechapel back street behind
the East London Mosque.
 The hoards of people that stand and wait outside to get a
table on a daily basis are testament to the fact that this is
one of the best curry houses in London.
 The prices are cheap, the food excellent, from grilled
meats to curries and there's an excellent sweet counter for
after-dinner treats.

 · Tayyabs, 83-89, Fieldgate St, London E1; +44 (0)207 247

3. Nawaab, Bradford
 Fantastic food and genial service make this a winner (and that of quite a few
Bradfordians). It is a little more expensive than other curry houses in the area, but
hardly bank-breaking. The Nawaab tandoori mix is an excellent starter, not only for
its variety of flavours but also because it is served on a impressive "sizzler" dish,
which looks to be hotter than the surface of the sun.
 Nawaab, 32 Manor Row, Bradford; + 44 (0)1274 720371
4. Moon Restaurant, Manchester
 Forget Bradford, Birmingham and Leicester, and even forget the mile of curry
houses down the road in Rusholme ... the best Indian food to be scoffed is at the
Moon. Their tadka dhal is better than my late Mum's and they do, hands down, the
best naan breads I have ever tasted. The dishes are spicy but not fiery. The
ingredients are fresh and fragrant. It's a proper curry house with flock wallpaper,
naff sitar music and pictures of the Taj Mahal that light up.
 Moon Restaurant, 450-452 Wilmslow Road, Withington, Manchester M20 3BW; +44
5. Sangam Restaurant, Manchester
 Named after the Indian word for "meeting place", one of the people you might
possibly meet here is Jason Orange from Take That who, after choosing the
restaurant as one of his favourite Mancunian haunts back in the '90s, created a
whole new customer base in the form of teenage girls. It is situated proudly at the
start of Manchester's infamous curry mile and promises "Indian food for the 21st
century – light, delicate and full of the most subtle flavours".
 Sangam Restaurant, 9-19 Wilmslow Road, Manchester; +44 (0)161 257 3922

6. Al Frash, Birmingham
 You can't go far wrong eating in any of the curry houses in Brum's famous Balti Triangle, the area
of balti houses clustered along Ladypool Road, Stoney Lane and Stratford Road south of the city
 Everyone has their favourite, but one of the best is undoubtedly the Al Frash, famous for its
aubergine pakora and house specials such as balti chicken and mushroom and "Afrodesia", finely
minced chicken or prawn cooked with ginger garlic and mushroom. Of course everything comes
sizzling in black steel balti bowls and is accompanied by delicious doughy coriander naans.

 Al Frash, 186 Ladypool Road, Sparkbrook, Birmingham; +44 (0)121 753 3120.

7. Manzils, Southampton
 Manzil's in Bevois valley, Southampton (beavis valley to the locals, bev-wah to the everyone else)
is a perfect late-night curry house, or great for an evening meal.
 Cheap and cheerful with friendly staff, you'll find (most importantly) some of the best curry
available in Southampton — and it tastes even better at four in the morning! It has passed into
near legendary status among the local student community.

 · Manzils, 54 Onslow Road, Southampton; +44 (0)23 8022 7423

8. Simla, Kimberley, near Nottingham
 Slightly off any kind of beaten track, the Simla in Kimberley, near Nottingham, delivers just
about the best curry in town. It's a smart, modern restaurant, with excellent staff and a really
wide-ranging menu featuring the dishes you'd expect and a few you wouldn't.

 ·Simla Indian Restaurant, 5 James Street, Kimberley +44 (0)1159 459350

9. Akash Tandoori Restaurant, Leicester
A Bangladeshi place on the London Road, it bills itself as Leicester's
legendary price-busting restaurant and is ever popular with students
because of its specials at £6 in the evenings, £2.95 at lunch. Décor is a bit
rough and ready, but the service is friendly and the lamb bhoona is mouth-

· Akash Tandoori Restaurant, 159 London Rd, Leicester; +44 (0)116 255 9030

10. The Dhabba, Glasgow
Authentic north Indian cuisine right in the heart of the Merchant City, so,
as you might expect, it's done with a rather trendy twist — sleek, modern
décor and eye-watering prices to match (mains come in over the £10
mark). But then our curry houses have always been a bit keen compared to
those south of the border. In fact, the Guardian said: "If we're lucky, this
could become the model for 21st-century UK curry houses"

· The Dhabba, 44 Candleriggs, Glasgow; +44 (0) 141 553 1249

 Oriental – The first wave of Chinese arrived in
the second half of the 19th century after
China's defeat in the Opium Wars and were
mainly seamen. A second wave came in the
1950's with the main flow after the voucher
system was introduced in 1962.
 The first Japanese restaurant in Britain title is
claimed by an establishment in Barrow-in-
Furness. Dating from the early 1900s it was
opened to cater to the Japanese seamen
standing by the Japanese warships being built
in the town. The length of its operations
certainly covered several years but
unfortunately it is no longer in business.
 Despite its present popularity, the Thai
phenomenon did not appear until the end of
the 1960's and interest has grown hugely in
the past thirsty years as tourism has grown.
The advent of Japanese restaurants is even
more recent, dating from the early 1970's
 Italian - The Italian restaurant sector in Britain has
been in existence for much of the 20th century with
early pioneering restaurants such as Ristorante
Italiano in Curzon Street which opened in 1936. In
1990 restaurant patronage was estimated at 14% for
Italian as against 27% Indian, 19% Chinese and 41%
 In the past 10years the popularity of British
restaurants has declined and all the others grown.
Largest areas of concentration of restaurants apart
from London are Scotland, Surrey and Sussex with
Yorkshire having double the number of Lancashire.
 Essex is the best served of the Home Counties and
Sussex is a popular location for Italian restaurants.
 The Italian community in London dates back to the
early nineteenth century. These were mainly educated
political refugees and settled around Clerkenwell and
Holborn in London. By 1881 there were 3500 and by
1901 the number had risen dramatically to 11,000.

 The connection with the Caribbean is that the
area was originally settled by the peaceful
Arawaks and war-like those from South
America, bringing allspice, cassava and
 The colonial influence followed after
Columbus with input from the British, French,
Spanish and Dutch, then African slaves and
finally, Asians, especially in Trinidad.
 The other cuisines featured in this section -
Spanish, Greek, Turkish, Lebanese, Portuguese
- have culinary histories dating back to pre-
history as empires have risen and fallen and
wars have merged cultures.
 The one thing they all have in common is the
love of spice and seasonings adapted in their
own style