There's nothing like a good curry!

Published: Tuesday, 13 November 2018


From the earliest days of the East India Company the British have been in love with a good curry. The word itself, which is rarely used in India, is alleged to have come about as a direct result of a mispronunciation by the British, of the Tamil word ‘kari’ meaning a sauce or accompaniment to rice dishes, although not everybody agrees with this reference. The Tamil words ‘kari podi’ are further alleged to mean a collection of spices with which to produce ‘kari’ dishes which we refer to nowadays in general terms as curry powder.

Within the UK, many of the typical dishes emanating from the Indian sub-continent have been adapted to suit a more westernised palate but this is changing in an ever evolving cultural and ethnic environment.

In the 18th and 19th centuries many of the coffee houses, particularly in London, served curry and throughout this period and beyond curry increased in popularity both with an influx of South Asian immigrants and the large number of returning expatriates who had worked under the British Raj or undertaken active military service on the sub-continent.

Although a great number of authentic Indian meals are from specific geographical or religious regions, there is now a large and varied menu of authentic and ‘’anglicised’ curry dishes available within the UK. It is not however, always readily apparent to the uninitiated or novice what each may contain, or more importantly the strength of the spices and heat of the accompanying sauce.

Whilst many of the names given to individual dishes served within UK curry houses, as opposed to UK fine dining Indian restaurants, may derive from the traditional Indian names, frequently the recipes will not; although here at Sarpech we pride ourselves on our authentic approach to our cuisine. Often dishes from the south of India tend to be hotter than those from the north but beware, there are exceptions to every rule!

  • Balti - simply put, this is the dish in which the curry is cooked as opposed to specific ingredients which may be used
  • Bhuna - medium, thick, onion based sauce, some vegetables and peppers and frequently meat or fish
  • Biryani - spiced rice and meat cooked together and usually served with a vegetable curry sauce
  • Dhansak - often made with either lamb or chicken although it derives its name from a Parsi dish of mutton cooked with lentils and vegetables
  • Dopiaza - the name means ‘double onion’ referring to the boiled and fried onions used as its primary ingredient, this is a medium hot curry
  • Jalfrezi - onions, green chilies and a thick sauce, medium to hot
  • Korma - a very mild curry often yellow in colour, with almond and coconut powder
  • Madras - within the UK a well known hot, slightly sour curry
  • Pasanda - a mild curry sauce made with cream, coconut milk and almonds or cashews, served with lamb, chicken, or king prawns
  • Naga curry - relatively new extremely hot dish with unique savoury taste made with the highly aromatic Naga Morich or Bhut Jolokia chilli pepper
  • Pathia - a hot curry, similar to a Madras with the addition of lemon juice and tomato purée
  • Phaal - probably the hottest curry you can eat in a UK restaurant although not originating in India. Phaal in Bengali means 'spicy'
  • Roghan Josh - a medium-spicy curry, usually of lamb, with a deep red sauce containing tomatoes and paprika. It derives from a Kashmiri dish of the same name
  • Sambar - a medium sour curry made with lentils and tamarind
  • Tikka Masala - a British classic with mild and velvety textures
  • Vindaloo - a classic hot restaurant curry with hotter versions available often named 'tindaloo' and 'bindaloo'

At Sarpech, whatever your tastes, we will always strive to make your dining experience with us enjoyable and where at all possible will accede to your requests should your preferred choice not appear within our menu. Don’t forget that our chef’s Choices Menu changes monthly so there is always something new to try!

Back to latest news