Food for the soul
IN 1810, Hindoostane Coffee House, the first Indian restaurant in the UK, opened its doors in central London.
Two hundred years later, our love affair with Indian cuisine shows no sign of abating in Gloucestershire.
In fact, the 2013 Pub Curry Chef of the Year is Indunil Sanchi, who heads up the kitchen at Chipping Campden's Noel Arms Hotel.
With this year's Cobra Good Curry Guide revealing we spend on average £20 a month cooking Indian feasts at home, and £31 on our favourite curries out, it adds up to a poppadom-crunching £30,000 in a lifetime.
Gents, come in to Earl's & Co and enjoy a haircut and finish, glass of whisky and a shoeshine for £18.50
Terms: Later and earlier appointments available upon request
Contact: 01242 504887
Valid until: Tuesday, December 31 2013
So what exactly is it about the aromatic, heat-inducing Asian cuisine that we love so much?
It's part of our history.
"When the British were in India, they fell in love with the spices and local cuisine," says Vivek Singh, founder and CEO of The Cinnamon Club.
"And when they came back, they wanted to recreate this unique taste. So spices started being imported, along with chefs and cooks who had the culinary knowledge."
There's another reason we adore our curry too; chillies. When the body defends itself against the heat of a hot chilli it releases endorphins, the body's natural painkillers.
Addictive as they are, curries have gained a bad reputation for high levels of saturated fat, sugar and salt – particularly chicken tikka masala, Britain's national dish.
This doesn't mean all Indian fare is bad for you. Curries contain spices which boast a huge range of health benefits.
Coconut milk can lower cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease and blood pressure. Turmeric fights infection. Coriander aids digestion and helps combat eczema. Cinnamon is packed with anti-oxidants and cumin boosts the immune system.
■ Indunil Sanchi has teamed up with author and pop-up restaurateur Urban Rajah to present the Great Indian Food Feast. The pair promise to spin diners through a sensory journey of regional Indian food, including family recipes from the Urban Rajah's Curry Memoirs, served with carefully-selected beers.
They start in London on October 3, ahead of National Curry Week which starts on October 7, moving to the Wood Norton Hotel in Worcestershire on November 7 and the Noel Arms on December 5. Tickets for the Noel Arms dinner cost £45 on 01386 840330.