It was a foodstuff that was practically synonymous with East India Company culture. Curry was the daily meal for East India Company members in India and when they returned to England, they recreated that experience in coffeehouse steeped in nostalgia.
As early as 1747, Hannah Glasse produced the first known English recipe to make ‘a currey in the Indian Way,’ in her book.
In 1861 Isabella Beeton published Book of Household Management contained a recipe for curry powder which contained coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne, mustard, ginger, allspice and fenugreek, though she also noted that ready-made curry powder could be bought at any respectable shop.
On 27 March 1811, an advert appeared in the Times that announced to the retired East India Company officials of London that they would now be able to enjoy ‘Indian dishes in the highest perfection’ at the newly opened Hindostanee Coffee House.
The Indian proprietor, Sake Dean Mahomed, assured his customers that the spices, oils and herbs, for curries were all specially procured in India.
Curry moved out of London coffeehouses and onto grocery shelves, where the commercialization of ready-made curry powder helped to cultivate and polarize the taste for curry in the English culinary landscape.
While the origin of curry powders are unknown, it was said that the curry powder was invented in the 17th century as an export commodity for East India Company employees to take or send back to England.
But curry powder moved out of East India Company circles, and was gradually incorporated into English cuisine. By the late nineteenth century, curry powder had become a familiar ingredient in English kitchens.
Curries preparation became standardized after the series of world’s fairs and exhibitions, including the 1895–1896 Empire of India Exhibition in Earl’s Court, where a Curry House offered visitors ‘Eastern dishes’.
History of curry dish in England