Curry Culture

Curry has become an iconic and favourite dish in British society over the past few decades. We all have our favourites on what to order when dining out. Curry is as diverse as it is delicious, and there are plenty of interesting facts about curry that you probably didn’t know. To get you in the mood for a nice curry dish we pulled together these 10 “hot” facts about curry:

The origin of the name “curry”

All too often when we refer to curry we don’t give much thought to what it means. But just how did curry get its name? There are different theories from where the word originated from. It could refer to the French “cuire”, which means “to cook”, as some believe. It was also mentioned in the title of a book in the 1700’s called “Forme of Cury”. The most likely origin of the word “curry”, comes from the Tamil name “kari”, which was a soup-like spiced sauce as it was first described in the mid-17th century in a Portuguese cookbook.

The first curry house in Britain

With all the curry houses around, it is difficult to believe that nearly 200 years ago there were almost none. The first Indian restaurant in Britain was set up in 1810 in London. Sake Dean Mahomed, traveller and one of the most notable non-European immigrant entrepreneurs, opened the restaurant in George Street, near Portman Square in Central London. The restaurant was known then as the Hindoostane Coffee House, which offered many things such as Indian cuisine. Thus, introducing unintentionally curry culture to Western Europe. Unfortunately, the venue does not exist anymore as it came to an end due to financial difficulties.

The first English curry recipe

Indian recipes used to not be written, but rather passed by word of mouth over generations. The earliest recorded known curry recipe dates from 1747 from the book “The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy”. Written by Hannah Glasse, it was the first edition mentioning the curry dish. The recipe was called “To make a Curry the India way” and only used black pepper and coriander seed for seasoning of the curry. Later, in the fourth edition of the book, she implemented other ingredients such as turmeric and ginger. Hot spices were not mentioned in the book, as hot spices were not introduced in India until the 16th Century.

The world’s largest curry

According to the Guinness World Records the largest curry ever be made weighed 15.34 tonnes (33,838.9 lb) and was cooked by the Indian Chefs and Culinary Association, in Singapore on 1st August 2015. The event took place outdoors in a public park during the Suvai celebration. Suvai is a yearly culinary event lasting four days when chefs from all across Asia come together to cook.

The world’s hottest curry

When going out for Indian food, some of us would like some extra spice with our chosen curry. If you are a “spice aficionado” you might know about, and have dared to try, the Chicken Naga. The Chicken Naga is famous for being one of the hottest curry dishes ever made. The dish is made with a high volume of Naga pepper seed, which measure 855 000 on the Scoville Scale. These seeds are 100 times hotter than jalapeño peppers. However, it is not the hottest curry ever to be cooked. The title of hottest curry goes to the infamous ‘Flaming Fiery Phaal’ and is made with two of the hottest chilli peppers on earth namely the Scorpion and Naga peppers. It is so hot that even the packaging has multiple warning signs for shoppers. It truly is “very, very, very hot”. The Scorpion pepper measures 1.5 million rating on the Scoville Scale, which is plain ridiculous.

The largest naan bread ever made

The world’s largest naan bread was cooked on the 19th April 2016 in Toronto, Canada. The naan bread weighted 32kg (70lb 8.76oz) and measured a whopping 4.96m (16ft 3.24in) in length and 1.26m (4ft 1.56in) in width. The naan bread was made by Loblaw Companies Limited, who already held the same record since 2008.

The tallest poppadom stack ever made

The record of tallest stack of poppadoms was broken on 25th March 2011 in Manchester, UK. The attempt was made by the Indian Ocean Restaurant. The stack’s total height was 1.57m (5ft 2in) which is 6cm taller than the previous record. Nahim Aslam, owner of the Indian Ocean said, “I am over the moon we managed to pull off the win last night. We’ve been practising for weeks so confidence was very high amongst the team that we would do it but course there were nerves too”.

Britain, the capital of curry

Experts believe humans were enjoying curry as far back as 4,000 years ago and these days 23 million Brits love to eat the spicy dishes regularly. But would you say that the world’s curry capital is in Britain instead of India? There are almost 10,000 curry houses across Britain. There are more curry houses in London than in the Indian metropolis of Mumbai. Of all the takeaways in Britain, two-thirds are curry. Each individual in Britain will spend an average £30,000 in a lifetime on curry. According to a research done by Sainsbury’s, we stuff down a crunchy 205 million poppadums’ annually.

Tikka Masala not an original Indian curry

The country’s most popular curry dish by far is the Chicken Tikka Masala. One in seven dishes served in the UK is Chicken Tikka Masala. Surprisingly, being one of the most popular curry dishes in the UK it is not an actual Indian dish. As a matter of fact it comes from a lot closer to home. The dish originated in Glasgow. The Pakistani chef Ali Ahmed Aslam, owner of the Shish Mahal Restaurant at the West End of Glasgow, invented the dish through improvisation in 1971. He created a sauce made from yogurt, cream, and spices to come up with today’s iconic dish. The story was virtually unknown until in 2013, when the son of Ali, Asif Ali, told the story of his father invention to the BBC’s Hairy Bikers TV cookery programme.   

Regional Indian cuisine

In India there is no such thing as one type of food culture. Each of the regions uses different ingredients and cooking methods to create their own Indian cuisine. The Northern regions come the closest to what we consider Indian cuisine. Southern cuisine is usually hotter and less creamy than that of the North. Thickness, texture and the amount of rice within the dishes are features which can differ between regions as well.

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Roving Reporter

Our roving reporter in the North of England.

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