By Prasun Sonwalkar, IANS
London : Who opened the first Indian restaurant in Britain? It was Dean Mahomet, a resident of Patna who moved to England in 1784. Born in 1759, Dean joined the East Indian Company and rose to the rank of subedar. He also claims to have introduced the art of "champi" shampooing to England.
If Dean Mahomet was the first, the latest to open an Indian restaurant is Mashood Siddiqi, a consultant physician who has opened the 'Mayur' restaurant in Liverpool.
Dean Mahomet had sparked off a culinary trend in the 18th century that over the years has become a national obsession of Britain.
The story goes that Dean Mahomet and his "best friend", Captain Godfrey Baker, came to Britain in 1784 and started a new life in Ireland. He studied English and married Jane Daly, "a pretty Irish girl of respectable parentage".
He had several children and published a book with the title: "The Travels of Deam Mahomet, a Native of Patna in Bengal, Through Several Parts of India, While in the Service of the Honourable East India Company".
Mahomet moved to Portman Square in London where he joined the vapour bath owned by Sir Basil Cochrane. Here Mahomet added "champi" to the list of services offered.
In 1810 he established the Hindoostan Coffee House at 34 George Street, Portman Square, which was the first Indian restaurant by an Asian in Britain.
However, in 1812 he was forced to declare bankruptcy. After several trysts in his fortunes, he was appointed "Shampooing Surgeon" to king George IV. He died in 1851.
Continuing his spirit of entrepreneurship, Mashood Siddiqi's five-star restaurant 'Mayur' in Liverpool serves an array of Indian specialities including healthy grilled options, seafood and game. Head chef Uday Seth has experience of working in a five-star hotel, having worked for the Taj group in New Delhi.
Siddiqi, who lives in Blundellsands, said: "My family and I noticed a lack of good-quality authentic Indian restaurants in Liverpool and often found we had to travel to Manchester's curry mile, so we decided to open a new establishment.
"So many people think Indian food is unhealthy but many options are not – cooking methods such as Tandoori are good for you, as it is dry with little fat. We have wanted to do this for over four years and finally the restaurant is ready. It is very exciting."
Uday Seth told the Daily Post, Liverpool: "The menu will revolutionise your palate. For example, one of our signature dishes will be Murgh Tikka Labab and we'll be hosting complimentary dining opportunities for selected guests in our opening weeks so people can relate to how good and unique we believe our cooking is."
Siddiqi's son-in-law Suhail Ahmed added: "We wanted to update what some of the five-star venues in India and London have to offer and establish something very special in Liverpool."