In celebration of National Curry Week (10th - 16th October), Sainsbury's has revealed how the nation's love of Indian cuisine has evolved since its introduction to the UK.
Since its introduction to Britain in 1747, the nation has fully embraced and continued to evolve classic Indian cuisine throughout the decades. With popular dishes such as Tandoori meats in the 1970s and the Balti in the 1980s and 1990s, many of the options on offer were anglicised versions of a limited number of classic Indian dishes.
However, as UK tastebuds become increasingly sophisticated and with a greater demand for authenticity, more flavoursome and exotic varieties are becoming available, further establishing Indian food as the nation's favourite.
With a long standing heritage of stocking Indian-style cuisine in store, Sainsbury's first introduced classic Indian ingredients, such as curry powder and mango chutney, in 1920, representing a revolutionary addition to supermarket shopping for the time. The firm's first Indian ready meals included Chicken Tikka Biryani, Chicken Korma, Chicken Kadhai and Bombay Potato which were introduced to customers in 1989.
Over 20 years on, Sainsbury's stocks a range of 50 prepared Indian dishes and accompaniments, selling more than £61m per annum. In fact over two fifths (43%) of Brits would now opt for a ready meal over a takeaway, down to convenience and better value for money.
• The nation selects Tikka Masala and Korma as their favourite dishes
• Wales tops the Scoville scale opting for Madras as their favourite dish
• Beating rice to poll position, the UK opt for naan breads as their favourite side dish
• The majority of the UK like their curry relatively hot whilst London buck the trend opting for milder recipes
• Brits will spend a whopping £30,331 on curry in their lifetime
• 43% of Brits would now opt for a ready meal over a takeaway down to convenience and better value for money
• Brits identified that curries aren't just for the weekend, with nearly half of us saying we would eat curry any night of the week
Vishal Rew, New Product Development Controller, is a classically trained development chef at the Sainsbury's supplier, explained, 'The best curries need to be prepared in small batches, and finished by hand. We often start in our factory kitchens as early as 6am, cooking over the course of the day. We gently simmer our curries, allowing the full flavour of the spices to come through.
'We use a mix of traditional recipes and special blend of spices that have been part of our family for decades, as well as experimenting with new flavours as tastes continue to evolve. We'd say one of the most important ingredient is the passion with which any dish is made!'
While the classics like Chicken Tikka Masala and Chicken Jalfrezi remain hugely popular, Sainsbury's has identified a growing appetite for authentic and diverse Indian dishes which are more aromatic and lighter than some of the more traditional options.
Austin Wheeler, Product Developer at Sainsbury's, commented, 'To ensure we're able to meet the growing customer demand for Indian cuisine, we spend a lot of time tasting, sampling and trialling a range of curries.
'We review recipes and ideas from top chefs and new restaurants and visit those real hotbeds of Indian cuisine such as Bradford, Manchester's Curry Mile and Brick Lane to create a truly authentic product.
'We recently launched our new and extensive range of Indian ready meals, which includes a selection of delicious main dishes such as our By Sainsbury's Indian Tandoori Chicken with Raita Dip and our Taste the Difference hand stretched Chicken Balti-Topped Naan.
'We've also enhanced our range of vegetarian side dishes including By Sainsbury's Sweet Potato and Red Onion Bhajis, By Sainsbury's Tadka Daal and Taste the Difference Crispy Beetroot and Chilli Samosas. We've had some great feedback from our customers and will continue to evolve the range to suit changing palettes and preferences.'