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Outside India, many Indian restaurants operate to a formula which was pioneered in the late 1940s in London. In those days, a way had to be found to deliver a variety of curries, without an unreasonable delay, from order to table. The problem was all authentic Indian recipes require hours of cooking in individual pots, and there was no guarantee that they would even be ordered. So cubed meat, chicken or potatoes, dhal, and some vegetables were lightly curried and chilled, and a large pot of thick curry gravy, a kind of master stock, was brewed to medium-heat strength. To this day, portion by portion, on demand, these ingredients are reheated by pan-frying them with further spices and flavourings. At its simplest, Medium Chicken Curries, benchmarks of middle ground, are still on many menus, though sometimes disguised as Masala, and require no more than a reheat of some sauce with some chicken. Rice may be pre-cooked, while breads and tandoori items are made to order by a different specialist.
The curry house menu can be very long, with a huge variety of dishes, sometimes numbered, sometimes heat-graded, mild, medium and hot, hotter, hottest, and any dish is available in meat, poultry, prawn, king prawn, and most vegetables, too.
In the United Kingdom, “Asian cuisine” "curry" and "Indian cooking" generally refers to South Asian cuisine (which includes Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani, Nepalese and Sri Lankan cuisines). In the United States and Australia “Asian cuisine” usually refers to “East Asian” with its culinary origins in Imperial Chinese cuisine and now encompassing modern Japanese, and Korean and “Southeast Asian” cuisine which includes that of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines plus “South Asian'” as well.
UK curry restaurant history
The first Indian restaurant in the UK was opened by Sake Dean Mahomed, a captain in the British East India Company, who settled in George Street London in 1810. He called it the Hindoostanee Coffee House. It closed a year later for lack of business.
- Collingham, Elizabeth M (2006). Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors. Oxford University Press. pp. 2–3. ISBN 0-19-517241-8.
- Curry Club Tandoori and Tikka Dishes, Piatkus, London — ISBN 0-7499-1283-9 (1993)
- India: Food & Cooking, New Holland, London — ISBN 978-1-84537-619-2 (2007)
- New Curry Bible, John Blake Publishers ISBN 978-1-84358-159-8 (2005)