London’s first Indian curry shop opened more than 200 years ago. Since then, Brits have developed an appetite for Indian food, which is now among the most popular cuisines in the U.K. In fact, there are more Indian restaurants than fast-food establishments throughout England. Chicken tikka masala is considered a national dish of the United Kingdom along with the well-known meal of fish and chips. You may find yourself (and your students) sampling some of the most popular Indian dishes in the world on your next trip to England.
Indian food moved to the forefront of the British culinary scene during the Victorian era, a time when British rule was expanding in India. Anglo-Indian cuisine, which fuses Indian dishes with British influence, was born out of British imperialism in India.
Today, there are approximately 12,000 Indian restaurants in the U.K.
Indian food in England doesn’t always adhere to traditional Indian recipes. Although the cuisine reflects the culture of India and England alike, diners often have the option of combining a number of base ingredients such as chicken, prawns, or other meat with a number of curry sauces. They’re free to create Indian dishes in the way that best suits their palettes. If you’re looking for some tips on what to order (and what to encourage your students to try), here are some of the most popular Indian dishes in England:
Chicken tikka masala
England’s most popular Indian dish, chicken tikka masala, is a bowl of roasted chunks of chicken in a spicy sauce. The sauce is usually creamy, but the recipe varies greatly so the exact style of the dish could be different from restaurant to restaurant.
More formally known as murgh makhani, butter chicken is typically marinated overnight in a yogurt and spice mixture. It usually includes garam marsala, ginger, garlic paste, lemon, pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and chili. The chicken is typically prepared in a tandoor, a cylindrical clay oven used for cooking in southern, central, and western Asia.
Malai Kofta is essentially a vegetarian version of meatballs. It goes well with naan bread or Jeera rice. Although it’s typically cooked only for special occasions, many Indian restaurants in England still serve this dish on a daily basis.
Rogan josh is a lamb dish of Persian origin, and its name roughly translates to “cooked in oil at intense heat.” It was brought to Kashmir and other areas in and around India and is now considered one of the most popular Indian dishes in England.
This chickpea curry is as spicy as they come and is typically accompanied by bhatooras, a fried Indian bread. It’s usually served at breakfast with onions, carrot pickle, green chutney and achaar (a variety of vegetables). This is quite different from a traditional American breakfast, and it can be a unique cultural experience for you and your students.
If you enjoy spinach, this is the perfect Indian dish for you. Palak paneer consists of spinach and paneer (Indian cottage cheese) in a thick curry sauce featuring pureed spinach. It is among the most popular vegetarian dishes in India.
You can find dozens of street vendors in London selling chaat, which is a popular Indian snack. There are several types of chaat, but all varieties have a fried-dough base mixed with other ingredients.
Want to experience some of the most popular Indian dishes across England? Browse our educational tours, and start planning a tour to England for you and your students. You can explore India with EF, too.