Food: Curry given a warm reception

Indian food is more popular than ever in the UK and curry is now the most popular ready-made meal bought from the ethnic food section in supermarkets, a study reveals today.

The popularity of Indian cuisine in restaurants and takeaways has filtered through to the retail sector, says market analysis company Datamonitor.

Sales of Indian chilled, frozen and ready made meals have overtaken Chinese and Italian foods, it adds. Since 1992, sales of curry-based canned ready meals have shot up by more than 15 per cent, compared to an increase of less than 1 per cent for noodle-based products.

And sales of Indian chilled ready meals are worth a staggering pounds 37m compared to pounds 26.3m for Chinese meals. In the lucrative frozen ready meals segment, Indian recipes have overtaken Oriental as the most popular, with sales worth pounds 72m.

Cooking Indian meals at home has become a popular culinary pasttime and sales of Indian-style wet sauces have climbed by more than 24 per cent a year and now account for 16 per cent of wet cooking sauces, up from nearly 11 per cent in 1992.

In the dry cooking sauce market, Indian has overtaken Oriental and now lies in second place behind Mexican food.Datamonitor's UK Ethic Food report said: "Manufacturers have begun to realise the range of Indian recipes which can be exploited. This has seen the introduction of whole new ranges, particularly Balti foods, which have given great impetus to sales of Indian food."

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