After tea, the food that is integral to London’s identity could be Indian food.(Sake Dean Mahomed)
It is not just hugely well-known, with over 100 Indian restaurants spread across all of the English capital but the Asian food represents the broad range of influences that are present in one of the most diverse cities.
Indian cuisine is so deeply tied in London it every October, the city is awash with celebrations of Curry Week.
That’s why I wasn’t impressed with the plaque that I found within central London during September. It seemed like an insignificant memorial to the man who invented Indian food in the capital.
The description, as it stands is not a good one to describe Sake Dean Mahomed who was one of the most prominent Muslim who left a significant footprint on Europe from the late 1800s and into the mid 1800s.
Sake Dean Mahomed not only established the city’s first Indian restaurant, he also conducted business with the royals and was the first Indian author to publish his work in English and also popularized the method of shampooing across the globe.
In the wake of reading his extraordinary story this past year, I made the decision to follow the Mahomed’s path. From the ancient market that dotted Ireland to the bustling parks and streets of London I followed the route of this fascinating person who left India in 1784 and became famous in Europe.
I began my journey in a place that was close to home: Cork. Cork is an Irish city that my grandfather was born, and where he was educated was Mahomed’s first stop when his arrival to Europe when he was 25 years old.
The city is located on the banks Cork is situated on the banks of River Lee, which flows into the adjacent Atlantic Ocean, Cork is an attractive city that has around 200,000 people living there.
Cork was an exotic place for an aspiring young Indian man during the early 18th century that Ireland was almost exclusively Caucasian.
The heart of the area is the English Market. In a stately building, it is home to more than 50 companies, including butchers, fishmongers jewellers, fresh produce sellers, and shops that sell clothing, instruments handmade crafts, as well as Irish art.
The market was one of the places in Cork that Mahomed felt at ease. It was because it was Cork’s principal trading point and also sold various spices and other ingredients from around the globe and even India. It was only constructed at the time that Mahomed was brought to Cork from his hometown in Patna located in the north of India.
The time period in which he lived is described through the book The travels of Dean Mahomed A book that integrates the writings of Mahomed along with a detailed account of his experiences living in Ireland as well as England by the historian Michael H Fisher.
Mahomed traveled through Ireland under the guidance by Godfrey Evan Baker, Fisher writes. He had met the powerful Irishman in India in India, in India, where Baker was employed by The British East India Company.
Baker’s status as a socialite has opened the doors to Mahomed who was married to an elite Irish Catholic family.
In a time where it was not legal to Irish Catholics or Irish Protestants to be married and a marriage between white Irish woman and an Indian man was so unpopular that they had to marry in 1876.
However, soon, this couple was able to make it into Cork the high-end society largely because of Mahomed’s growing reputation as writer.
In India, Mahomed had been an intern surgeon. It was writing that ignited his passion for. The year 1794 was the time he received the acclaim of Europe and then back to the United States for his debut novel, The Travels of Dean Mahomed which chronicled his adventures in India.
In the past 20 years, after living living in Cork which was where he’d gained fame and fortune, Mahomed moved his family to London in search of new opportunities.
They settled in the upmarket Portman Square. Many tourists to London are now able to wander around this area, which is surrounded by tourist attractions like Hyde Park, Oxford Street and Madame Tussauds.
On George Street, that I discovered the monument bearing Sake Dean Mahomed’s name. It marks the old location that was the Hindoonstane Coffee House, London’s first Indian restaurant that was opened with the help of Mahomed around 1810. The interior was decorated with Indian paintings and bamboo furniture The Hindoostane set out to recreate not only the food , but also the atmosphere of the restaurants in the northern part of India.
It received a fawning review and was praised for its hefty curries. But just four years later, Mahomed was shut down and filed for bankruptcy. London was still not ready to accept Indian cuisine – it was to take until the mid-1900s before the food became a part of the mainstream.
Mahomed was not defeated, but. In 1814 , he relocated to Brighton in England’s deep south and set out on a path to his success. This was not through restaurants or writing however, but rather through a brand new activity which was growing in popularity with wealthy Brits and the wealthy – indoor bathing.
The ocean swimming wasn’t a favorite among the upper class of Britain because of the sweltering temperature of the ocean. Thus, Mahomed created a facility which funnelled ocean water into an indoor pool which would be warmed up to make a lavish bathing space. Today, Brighton is a very well-known seaside resort, and visitors often visit Mahomed’s bathhouse, which is located about 100m away from Brighton Palace Pier which is famous for its amusement rides and theme parks.
When Mahomed was first arriving to Brighton it was only beginning to become a tourist destination. Many wealthy tourists were attracted by new age beauty and health treatments. Mahomed was able to cash in. At his bathhouse, Mahomed offered services that were never ever seen in Britain. The majority of them came from India as did his trademark service – washing using Indian oils.
This was such a popular type of massage that Sake Dean Mahomed soon gained the intriguing name”shampooing surgeon “shampooing surgeon” to British monarchs William IV and George IV.
Visitors to the charming resort can get more information about Sake Dean Mahomed at the Brighton Museum.
In this city in the year 91, that the curtain came to the incredible existence of Mahomed. Mahomed left behind the trail of Northern India through Cork, London and England’s southern shores which tourists can continue to follow.