Who was Sake Dean Mahomed? Google Doodle honours man who opened first Indian restaurant in UK

Legendary entrepreneur also became first Indian author to publish a book in English

Chris Riotta
Tuesday 15 January 2019 18:03 GMT
Sake Dean Mahomed: Who was the man credited with merging British and Indian cultures?

Sake Dean Mahomed was just 25-years-old when he brought the tastes and cultures of his homeland to England, effectively creating a centuries-long love affair for Indian cuisine across Great Britain.

The entrepreneur had a life filled with firsts, becoming the first Indian author to publish a book in English, as well as the first person to open an Indian restaurant in London. He called it the Hindoostane Coffee House.

Located in Portman Square, London, the restaurant was billed as a high-quality dining experience in 1810 by The Epicure’s Almanack, then one of the most popular British restaurant guides.

Mr Mahomed’s Hindoostane Coffee House was perfect “for the nobility and Gentry,” according to the guide, “where they might enjoy the Hookha with real Chilm tobacco and Indian dishes of the highest perfection“.

Mr Mahomed's plan had been to serve “Indianised” British food which would appeal to the Indian aristocracy in London as well as British people who had returned from India, he said.

“The Indian aristocracy however would not come out to eat in the restaurant because they had chefs at home cooking more authentic food.”

However, the entrepreneur’s unprecedented success did not stop when his restaurant was forced to declare bankruptcy just two years after opening. Mr Mahomed then opened a luxury bathhouse called Mahomed’s Baths, catering to an elite clientele while offering revolutionary services for the British.

He launched the bathhouse in Brighton, providing therapeutic massages he nicknamed “shampooing,” deriving from a Hindi word that translates to “head massage”. The herbal steam baths and therapeutic massage techniques became a regular part of life for England’s royalty, including the Prince of Wales, George IV and later William IV.

Mr Mahomed would eventually be referred to as “The Shampooing Surgeon of Brighton,” releasing a book in 1822 titled, Shampooing or Benefits Resulting from the use of Indian Medical Vapour Bath.

The book became a bestseller. Mr Mahomed would go on to have his portrait hang in the Brighton Museum and was credited with merging Indian and British culture in the early 1800s.

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On Tuesday, Google celebrated Mr Mahomed for his first book penned in English exactly 225 years after its release.

“A man of many talents, Sake Dean Mahomed was an entrepreneur who made a name for himself by building cultural connections between India and England,” Google wrote in a blog post announcing its latest Doodle appearing at the top of international search results. “On this day in 1794, he became the first Indian author to publish a book in English and later, to open an Indian restaurant in England—ushering in what would become one of Great Britain’s most popular cuisines.”

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