Indian Food Facts

Indian Restaurants on holiday

A lot of people mention the fact that when they go abroad and go to eat in an Indian restaurant and ask for a Chicken Madras, for example, the people in the restaurant abroad have no idea of what they want.

Many of the names for the dishes served in Britain, were created by the original pioneers of the Indian restaurants in Britain, and have only true meaning in Britain. This is not true of all the dishes and there are some dishes that are universal since they are dishes that can be easily created in any country such as Biryani, Jall Massala or Jhunaki.

The main difference between the food back in the Indian sub-continent and the Indian food in Britain is the local produce of the two different regions. Onions, potatoes, tomatoes and chillies are available the world over, so dishes that contain only those ingredients, such as Jhunaki, should be available in an Indian restaurant in Orlando say.

Most of the dishes that have names of cities from the Indian sub-continent are most probably British Indian restaurant names, such as Ceylon, Madras, Bombay etc.

When Indian restaurants first appeared in the U.K. it would have been too much of a mouth-full for the British public to pronounce names of dishes such as Handi Gusth Sagwala or Murgi Dil-Khush.

Vindaloo

The traditional Indian restaurant dish that we serve in this establishment, and many others across Britain, which also was the title of a popular song for beered up lads in the nineties, is a dish whose name originated from the city of Goa. This dish over here is known as Vindaloo.

The original Goan dish was called Vihna d’Aloo, which comes from the words wine and garlic. In this establishment, and many others around Britain, it seems that somewhere down the line, the original name and ingredients have been changed to what we know as a Vindaloo over here.

The Indian chefs in Britain interpreted the last part of the word to mean aloo – the word for potato. Hence you will find potato in a Vindaloo. We are sure that in Goa a Vinha d’Aloo is a very different dish in taste but still hot.

Chillies

You may not believe this, but it was the British that introduced chillies to India. Chillies originated from South America. Before chillies were introduced people in the Indian sub-continent used black pepper extensively in their cooking.

Since their introduction, their popularity has crept into many of the modern ‘authentic’ Indian dishes. The influence of the British upon Indian food is therefore quite substantial and Indian food today is very different to what was cooked over 240 years ago, pre-colonisation.

Chicken Tikka Massala

A favourite dish for many years, this dish was created in Britain by a pioneer Indian chef of the time.

The story goes that after the introduction of the tandoori oven to Britain, a customer complained that tandoori food was too dry to be served on its own, and needed some kind of sauce to go with it. The chicken was taken back to the kitchen and the chef made an original recipe dish by blending it with tomatoes and spices among other ingredients.

Thus the Chicken Tikka Massala was born. Today the Chicken Tikka Massala is different in nearly every restaurant in Britain.

Tandoori dishes

The word tandoor means fire. Basically tandoori food is barbecued over fire or charcoal.

It is a traditional Indian food originating in the Punjab region and has undergone many years of perfecting. Tandoori Chicken is among the best tasting barbequed chicken in the world.

Balti dishes

Another creation from pioneer Indian chefs in Britain, Balti can mean several items in a kitchen, but in this case it has something to do with the pan that it’s cooked in, which is similar to a Wok.

The food is prepared with tamarind among other ingredients. Many patrons of Indian restaurants in Britain judge how good a restaurant is by how good their Balti dishes are.

Vegetarian dishes

“Vegetarian dishes were also a triumph; own-made paneer, meltingly soft to the touch, worked particularly well with a Murgi Dil Khushbu slow cooked tomatoes, peppers and onions. With its exciting blend of classic and Modern Indian dishes, Abbots Tandoori is one of Watford’s unsung champions.” (Raj and Mina St. Albans)