In celebration of National Curry Week, here’s the top 20 facts about curry…
  1. Could it have been the first chicken tikka masala? – Cuniform tablets dated to 1700 BC found near Babylon in Mesapotamia contained recipes for meat with a sauce and bread probably as an offering to the god Marduk
  2. The Portuguese introduced chillies to Cochin and Calicat in India in 1501 and by 1543 three varieties were being grown successfully locally – they were originally known as goan pepper.
  3. The British acquired Bombay in 1661 and Calcutta in 1690 opening the spice trade to a much wider market.
  4. A style of curry powder was introduced to UK in seventeenth century along the lines of the popular ‘kitchen pepper’ used in recipes since 1682 with ginger, pepper, cloves, nutmegs and cinnamon.
  5. Coronation Chicken was invented by Constance Spry and served at Queen’s Coronation Lunch in 1953.
  6. The Koh-i-noor in London was opened by Vir (Bir) Bahadur in the late 1920s with his daughter Kashmirin as cook. She met an Indian Prince in the restaurant and they married and moved to live in Jaipur Palace.
  7. The Shafi in Gerrard Street, London was the first successful up-market Indian restaurant in twentieth century opened in 1915 by Mohammed Wayseen and Mohammed Rahim then taken over by Dharan Lal Bodua.
  8. The first restaurant tandoor was built in the Moti Mahal in New Delhi in 1948
  9. The first commercial curry powder appeared in Britain in 1780 ntroduced by Sorlander from the East Indies and was quoted in the Morning Post in 1784 as being available at Sorlie’s Perfumery 23 Piccadilly.
  10. Queen Victoria had an Indian confidant, Abdul Karim, and is said to have had a curry prepared every day by two Indian chefs in the event she had a visitor from India. Abdul Karim became her favourite often being referred to as “her Munshi”.
  11. Japanese curry is one of the most popular dishes in Japan where people eat it 62 times a year on average. Curry was introduced to Japan by the British in 1870s.
  12. Currywurst is celebrated at a Currywurst Museum in Germany where 800 million are consumed each year since created by Herta Heuwer in 1949.
  13. One of the ingredients in Worcestershire Sauce created by two chemists Mr Lea and Mr Perrin in 1835 is ‘devils dung’ – asafoetida.
  14. Chilli is the most popular spice in the world and can help combat heart attacks and strokes and extends blood coagulation times preventing harmful blood clots.
  15. Curry first appeared on a commercial menu at a Coffee House in Norris Street, Haymarket in 1773 but the first dedicated Indian restaurant was the Hindostanee Coffee House in 1809/10.
  16. The first known record of the name ‘piccalilli’ is by Mrs Elizabeth Faffald (1733-1781) who gave a recipe for making ‘Indian Pickle or Piccalillo’. She wrote ‘The Experience English Housekeeper’ first published in 1769.
  17. Hannah Glasse, born and raised in Hexham, produced the first known printed recipe for modern ‘curry’ in Glass’s Art of Cookery in 1747
  18. Prince Axel of Denmark first met Edward Palmer at the Empire Exhibition at Wembley on May 2nd 1924. When Palmer opened Veeraswamy’s in London the Prince visited and was so entranced he ordered a case of the royal lager ‘Carlsberg’ to be delivered each year, thus making lager the drink of choice in Indian restaurants for many years to come.
  19. Biryani was brought to Hyderabad by the invading army of Aurangazeb under Khaja Abid, the father of the first Nizam. The dish was a ready-to-eat food for the soldiers during time of war.
  20. Korma is a greatly misunderstood curry. Korma is “slow cooking or braising” rather than meaning a mild curry as it has become accepted in Britain. It can actually be very mild or fiery hot, with rich ingredients. Top 20 Curry Facts