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The Most Popular Curries In UK Indian Restaurants.

Updated on February 21, 2014

National Dish

Originating in the Indian subcontinent the curry has almost become as much a part of British cuisine as Fish and Chips. Britain plays host to thousands of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi restaurants and the popularity of the curry never seems to wane. The word curry is pretty much a generic term to describe a number of dishes that originate from Asia. It has been said that curry powder a mixture of spices used in the making of curry recipes was first introduced into Britain during the days of the British Raj, returning officers brought back spices to attempt to recreate the dishes that they had enjoyed while in India. It was not until the early 1950s though when Britain saw a large amount of immigrants from the Indian subcontinent that the Indian Restaurant began to grow and become a favorite of the British public.

Meat or Vegetables.

In the article below we will look at the most popular curry dishes in British restaurants, they are not listed in any particular order as what can be number one in one year can change by the next. Almost any meat can be eaten in a curry and vegetables also work particularly well , so if you fancy trying any of these dishes, ask for your favorite meat or veg to be added confident that it will go well with the dish of your choosing.


Curry is normally served with a rice dish, good rice dishes to have with curry include Pilau Rice, rice that is usually dyed yellow and flavored with saffron, Fried Rice or just plain boiled Basmati Rice.

Indian breads are often served with a curry, Naan Bread a type of unleavened bread that is cooked in a Tandoori oven is popular so are Chapatis and a fried bread known as a Paratha.

Some curry dishes are served in a special dish, Baltis are usually cooked and served in metal pan known as a Karahi a metal pan similar to a small Wok, this method of preparation is especially popular in the English midlands.

A Madras served with brown rice.
A Madras served with brown rice.


A fiery hot curry, its reddish color being obtained from the amount of Chilli and sometimes Paprika powder that is used in the dish, quite a basic curry that works well with many types of meat or vegetables, this dish has been a staunch favorite of British curry lovers for many years. Although named after the area of Madras in Southern India, it is not believed the dish was ever eaten there, being purely an invention for British tastes. A very similar dish to Madras is Pathia, Pathia has sugar added to the dish to give it its distinctive sweetness.

A very creamy Chicken Tikka Masala.
A very creamy Chicken Tikka Masala.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka is chicken that has been marinated in yoghurt and spices before being cooked in a Tandoor oven, this gives the chicken a tasty if somewhat dry taste. The Masala or sauce used in the dish is very mild and creamy . This curry is arguably the most often served in British Indian restaurants and yet its origins are very debatable. It is claimed by many that the dish was invented by a Glasgow chef who was asked by a customer to invent a gravy to accompany his Chicken Tikka, other origin stories claim the dish was created first in London but Birmingham and Newcastle have also laid claim to its origin, however it was conceived, there is no denying its popularity, Chicken Tikka Masala is now a flavor that is sold in products such as Pizza and crisps and is firmly entrenched in the tastes of the British public.

A dupiaza served in a Karahi.
A dupiaza served in a Karahi.


Basically all Dupiaza or Dopiaza means is extra onions. When Dupiaza is served in an Indian restaurant it is usually a basic curry that has had extra onions fried and put into it. Any curry can be eaten " dupiaza" although it normally appears cooked as previously mentioned, as a dish in its own right on most Indian restaurant menus.

A Biryani served with Tandoori Chicken and a hard boiled egg.
A Biryani served with Tandoori Chicken and a hard boiled egg.


Biryani has been a favorite in British Asian restaurants since the 1950s, it consists of two parts, firstly you are served rice that has been cooked in subtle yet aromatic spices such as Saffron to which a meat is normally added, this will be accompanied by a side dish of a mild and yet tasty vegetable curry. This a curry often eaten by people who enjoy Asian food but dislike it too hot.

A Balti with fresh coriander added.
A Balti with fresh coriander added.


The word Balti has its origins in the Hindi and Urdo word " Balty " which translated literally means " bucket ". The Balti is a curry that is cooked and served in a dish known as a Balti a type of Karahi ( similar to a small Wok ). The curry itself consists of a medium hot soup like consistency sauce which contains many aromatic spices to which, just before serving, a large quantity of fresh Coriander is added. Although much like Chicken Tikka Masala the origin of the Balti curry is debatable, it is generally accepted that the Balti as we know it now was invented in the late 1970s in the Balsall Heath area of Birmingham in a restaurant known as Adils. As a curry fanatic myself i have eaten Baltis in restaurants all over the UK and i can honestly say that in no other city in Britain do the Baltis compare to the ones i have eaten in Birmingham. Britain's second city celebrates its local dish and even has an area known as the " Balti Triangle " where some of the best Balti restaurants are located. Balti is often eaten without rice and a bread is used to mop up the curry sauce and meat finger style. The Balti is a fun curry to eat and it is often said in Birmingham that the cheaper restaurants are often the best ones in which to sample this dish.


The roots of the dish Dhansak go back centuries. Dhansak was a dish that was served up for Moghul Emperors although it would be unrecognizable to the dish we see in British restaurants today. Traditionally Dhansak a Parsi dish, was made by making a semi hot curry sauce and adding ground and boiled types of lentils to the pot, in India chunks of Pumpkin would be then added to complete the dish. Today Pineapple has replaced the Pumpkin with the best restaurants using fresh chunks of Pineapple cut straight from the fruit rather than using the tinned variety. A good Dhansak should be yellow in color due to having plenty of Saffron added. Dhansak can be quite a dry curry but can taste superb if cooked correctly. Dhansak goes well with any meat and a Prawn Dhansak can be particularly palatable.

A Jalfrezi, note the large vegetable pieces.
A Jalfrezi, note the large vegetable pieces.


The Jalfrezi was voted the most popular curry in British restaurants in 2011. Basically a stir fry the Jalfrezi consists of marinated meat or vegetables stir fried quickly and added to a fairly rich and hot curry sauce, typically a Jalfrezi will contain large pieces of Bell Peppers and onions.


The Korma is normally the mildest curry found on the Indian restaurant menu. A Korma is usually made using ground almonds, fresh cream and coconut added to a very mild curry sauce. Often a Korma is recommended by a waiter to someone who is trying a curry for the first time due to its mildness, in my view this does the curry a bit of a disservice as when cooked correctly it can be a beautiful dish, like the Dhansak a little dry but full of gorgeous flavors. Best served with an aromatic rice.

Fiery red Vindaloo.
Fiery red Vindaloo.


The Vindaloo is often offered as the hottest curry in the house, variations of the theme include the Tindaloo an even hotter version or the super hot Phal a curry invented in Birmingham to please the curry addicts who had developed a tolerance to the heat of the Vindaloo. The Vindaloo originates from the Goa area of India and the dish has Portuguese roots. Originally a Pork dish in its native India the dish is now normally served with Chicken or Lamb, a red hot fiery dish it is not one for the faint hearted or newcomer to curries, eat at your own risk!

What To Drink?

What beverages go best with a curry? When choosing what to drink with a curry it is best to consider how hot and spicy you are expecting your curry to be. White wine goes fine with a Korma or any mild curry but seems to increase the hotness of a curry such as a Vindaloo. Do not drink coffee or tea with a curry, its just not done. In the Balti Triangle area of Birmingham you will often see the diners drinking milk or a traditional Asian yoghurt drink known as Lassi with their meal. Lager goes well with curry and it is not unusual today to find Indian restaurants that sell Indian produced lagers that are made to go with curry, for example the Cobra and Kingfisher brands that are slightly less gassy than traditional lagers. Bon Appetit.


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    • nuffsaidstan profile image

      nuffsaidstan 3 years ago

      Ha yes its true, and thanks for the comments folks.

    • punacoast profile image

      Viet Doan 3 years ago from Big Island, Hawaii

      WHAT!?! Chicken Tikka Masala was an invention of a British chef in London!?! I didn't know that. It is one of my favorite Indian dishes! Fascinating info about Indian curries. Now I'm hungry! Thanks.

    • My Cook Book profile image

      Dil Vil 3 years ago from India

      A great here, good hub and nice to know.