Is India ready for authentic UK curry? British chefs cook up a storm on the subcontinent

British chefs are having some success on the subcontinent, but not everyone is convinced

Exporting curry to India might seem as futile as it once was to carry coals to Newcastle, but the subcontinent is proving an increasingly lucrative market for British chefs offering their own interpretations and ingredients.

Dev Biswal is among the UK names whose trade is taking off in the ancestral home of the curry. He has received backing from a group of businessmen to open a new restaurant next year and is also preparing to front a television cookery series.

But the executive chef of the Ambrette restaurants in Margate and Rye still has a few challenges to overcome with recipes including pigeon and venison – especially when it comes to cheese, as he discovered on a recent trip to India.

“One thing which didn’t go down well with one guest was a Kentish Blue cheese, which I will recreate paneer dishes with,” he said. “He ran to the washroom to wash out his mouth out and said he’d never tasted anything so disgusting.”

He was undeterred, however, and is far from alone in his ambitions. Another champion of the British curry is Enam Ali, chairman of the Guild of Bangladeshi Restaurateurs, who has been offered a proposal from Kolkata to open a branch of his successful Surrey restaurant Le Raj.

Mr Ali, who supplied Indian cuisine during last year’s London Olympics, said: “The cooking process is different as in India they cook with a big pot like a Mogul dinner. In London, they have followed the French and English, cooking one dish individually. Bill Gates [the Microsoft chairman] said to me during the Olympics our lamb curry was better than in India.”

But will Indians welcome the rebranding of curry, or see it as patronising and another form of colonialism? Even the word curry is rarely used in India, and actually refers to the sauce rather than the dish itself.

Syed Ahmed, who recently hosted the Taste of Britain Curry Festival in Kolkata, is not worried. Such was the success of last month’s event that he has been invited back next year and will partner with the British Government.

Mr Ahmed, the editor of Curry Life magazine, said: “We had a fantastic response. UK Trade and Investment and us are working together to partner up with a hotel in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata to do a much bigger event in 2014. We did a lot of fusion dishes, experimenting with regional dishes like Yorkshire pudding – not using beef for religious reasons, but roast lamb with a spicy twist.”

But one of India’s leading food authors, Rashmi Uday Singh, is not so sure. “The British version of our curry would definitely not be accepted here. We are too used to the vibrancy of our hand-pounded masalas made to traditional recipes. There’s no question of the British version of curry being healthier… It’s just more bland and less authentic. “

This is echoed by Pat Chapman, the author of the Cobra Good Curry Guide. “The reaction of all of my Indian friends to the British curry is one of disdain,” he said. “I have my doubts that British cuisine will take off in India.”

Let the balti battle commence.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    ICE ICT: Lead Business Consultant

    £39,000: ICE ICT: Specific and detailed knowledge and experience of travel sys...

    Day In a Page

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map
    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
    Paris Fashion Week

    Paris Fashion Week

    Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
    A year of the caliphate:

    Isis, a year of the caliphate

    Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
    Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

    Marks and Spencer

    Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
    'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

    'We haven't invaded France'

    Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
    Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

    Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

    The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
    7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

    Remembering 7/7 ten years on

    Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
    Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

    They’re here to help

    We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
    What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

    What exactly does 'one' mean?

    Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue