Headlines § e-mail § Publisher details
§ rates & data § links

Est. 1996

Issue 220

April 2015

Curry in America




The curry industry in America has really only developed to any mass extent over the past twenty years and yet it has been well known almost as long as has been known in Britain.

In 1840, some 30 years after the first Indian restaurant had opened in London, Eliza Leslie included curry in her new cookbook, Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches by Eliza Leslie, 1840

Her father, a watchmaker of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was a personal friend of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and others. Eliza was born in Philadelphia and accompanied her parents to England in 1793. After her return to the United States in 1800, she resided chiefly in Philadelphia. Her first compositions were in verse. In her fortieth year she published her first prose work, a cookery-book, which met with a large sale. Later, after obtaining a prize for her story "Mrs. Washington Potts," which was published in Godey's Lady's Book, she adopted literature as a profession. She also wrote the 1851 edition of Direction for Cookery.

Chicken Curry(from the book)

2 chickens, broken down into breasts, thighs, and legs; marinated in a salt water brine at least a half hour.

To make the curry paste:

2 tablespoons powdered ginger

1 tablespoon powdered turmeric

1 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon mace

3 cloves

½ teaspoon cardamom

Pinch Cayenne

Pinch Salt

3 medium onions

Make the curry paste: combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until it forms a paste. Place a quart of water over heat to boil. When it comes to a boil, add the curry paste and simmer until dissolved. Keep at a boil until you are ready to pour it over the chicken.

Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry. Heat a generous amount of butter in a pan, then add chicken pieces. Fry, skin side down, until brown. Add the curry water, adding more water if necessary to cover the chicken completely. Simmer until chicken is cooked and tender. Add two tablespoons of butter kneaded with an equal quantity of flour. Simmer until the sauce has thickened. Serve with boiled rice.

Despite this, Indian food has been slow to find its way into the hearts (and stomachs) of cities around the United States. There are now more than 300 restaurants that serve cuisine from across the subcontinent in New York City alone compared to the mere 20 Indian restaurants that could be found in the Big Apple in the early 1980s.."

However, Indian food isn't anywhere nearly as popular as it should be. There are more than 40,000 Chinese restaurants around the country, and roughly the same number of Mexican restaurants, but only about 5,000 - 8000 Indian restaurants..

Which begs the question: Why? How could a cuisine which has been long been heralded by chefs, cherished by foodies, and even studied by food scientists, fail to catch on as quickly as other ethnic foods? Could it be a certain lack of appreciation for the skill required to make Indian food. The cuisine is among the most labour intensive in the world, and yet Americans are unwilling to pay beyond a certain, and decidedly low, price point.

An example of a restaurant that had trouble selling pricier Indian fare played out at Tabla, Danny Meyer's contemporary Indian restaurant in New York City, which was forced to close in 2010 after realizing that upscale Indian simply wasn't sustainable.

The main problem seems to have been when there was a downturn in the economy, especially in the years following the recession, people became much more judicious about when and how they went out to eat and Indian restaurants took a good deal of the brunt. It's unclear how many restaurants were forced to close, but it seems the number is significant.

People would not spend money on Indian food, especially not expensive Indian food, which basically shows the global hierarchy of taste. Indian food has not been as desirable as other foods in America, so people would rather pay for something else that they want more. There are, of course, hopes that this will change.


Headlines § e-mail § Publisher details
§ rates & data § links


Mood Food is published by PCSM, London, England © 2015


Peter J. Grove

Editorial office: PO Box 416 Surbiton, Surrey, England, KT1 9BJ

Tel: 020 8399 4831

email: GroveInt@aol.com