Why Does the UK Love Curry?

curryThe British love curry, so much so that it is England’s national dish (alongside Fish and Chips ofcourse!).

  • 85 percent of the curry houses in the UK are connected to Bangladesh (not India).
  • The most popular curry dish in the UK is Chicken Tikka Masala.
  • Chicken Tikka Masala has become so popular that is now a sandwich filling and pizza topping!
  • Curry dishes received a huge boost when a curry-styled entrée called “Coronation Chicken” was used by Queen Elizabeth II at her 1953 coronation.

Curry Comes To The UK
With passage of the McCarran-Walter Act by the United States Congress, immigration restraints greatly reduced the flow of immigrants to the US from the early 1950’s through the mid-1960’s. At this time, an increased inflow of Indians to England coincided with the return of many British military personnel who had delighted in curry dishes during their tours of duty.

As more and more Indian restaurateurs migrated to the UK, small restaurants featuring curry dishes opened and became instantly popular. The spicy taste were much sought after and were in sharp contrast to traditional British cuisine. The attraction was compelling and undeniable.

Mulligatawny soup is believed to be rooted in the soup enjoyed by British military personnel serving in India. Today, kedgeree, an English breakfast staple was derived from an Indian dish of rice and lentil.

What Is Curry?
Curry is best described as; “Any meat, fish or vegetable cooked up in a very favorable gravy, and is designed to lend flavor to the blandness of the grains. So the heart of any curry dish is the blend of spices that are used.” In India, rice and other boiled or baked grans were mainstays of the diet. Grains are basically bland so curry was the perfect spice to add surprising flavor to what would be a bland meal.

The composition and number of spices depends upon the region where the preparer learned to cook. In Calcutta, curry blends usually consist of cumin, fennel, fenugreek, mustard, celery seed and/or onion. In Dhaka, curry blends are be made from black cumin, aniseed, onion and fennel. Curry blends usually consist of three or more spices.

In the UK, Koorma is a favorite curry dish. However, it does not refer to the way the curry is blended but rather to the way the curry is used. Koorma is a slow-cook method that also includes garlic, oil, ginger, onion and lamb that has been marinated in yogurt.

There’s a lot to like about curry; if you’re not already a fan, give your local Curry house a try!

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