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British mouths water for Indian spices


London : Britons are craving strong Indian spices more than ever, with a research indicating a major rise in sales of spices and ready made Indian meals here in recent months.

Indian restaurants continue to be popular haunts in Britain, but in recent times most supermarkets have introduced their own Indian ready made meal ranges and make-your-meal pouches offering customers the choice of eating or preparing the recipes at home.

A re-heatable curry costs under five pounds in a supermarket compared to a trip of around 15 pounds a head to an Indian restaurant.

Though Indian restaurants are still cheaper than many rivals, last year sales of Indian ready meals have risen 50 percent at Sainsbury’s and 69 percent at Morrisons supermarkets.

The Independent has said that the Morrisons supermarket reported a major increase in the sale of strong spices in the last one year. Between August 2007 and September 2008, sales of curry powder have gone up by 169 percent, chilli powder 144 percent, cinnamon sticks 80 percent, cumin 21 percent and coriander 13 percent.

Britons are now preferring strong spices to subtler herbs, according to market researcher TNS, which tracks products brought by a panel of 25,000 customers.

Compared to last year, sales of fresh dill were down one percent, fresh basil five percent, fresh thyme 16 percent and fresh tarragon 22 percent. By comparison, sales of fresh coriander and chillies rose eight percent, and fresh ginger by 20 percent.

The research by TNS, however, does not explain the why of this change in tastes of British consumers.

Bart Spices, a Bristol-based herb and spice importer, said demand for more specialist Indian food products was rising at delicatessens and farm shops, in an indication that gourmets were becoming more interested in Asian cooking. Bart’s chairman Edward Shaw has predicted that in future more home cooks will use curry pastes, ginger powder and turmeric to make curries.