It may be ordered in an Indian restaurant, bought ready-made from the supermarket, or prepared in the kitchen at home, but however it comes, the most popular dish in the UK today is curry.
This is a spicy dish, made with meat, fish or vegetables, cooked with crushed spices. It has countless variations and degrees of 'heat', depending on how much chilli pepper you use.
Curry became popular among the English living in India during the days of the British Empire. The word comes from kari, meaning sauce, and grew out of a need to preserve meat in a hot climate. The heart of Indian dishes is the masala, the combination of spices which gives each dish its special flavor. The skill of a good cook lies in combining the spices correctly. One of the finest dishes, and one that is frequently ordered in Indian restaurants in the UK, is chicken tandoori. The chicken is marinated for several days in yogurt and spices and then cooked in a sealed tandoor oven.
A range of side dishes are served with an Indian meal, including chutneys - preserves made from fruit, vinegar and spices. The British also enjoy chutneys in a cheese sandwich, or with a traditional ploughman's lunch with cheese, salad and bread.
Another popular ‘fast food’ is fish and chips. Fish and chips shops first made an appearance at the end of the 19th century. The dish is very simple: fish (usually cod, haddock or plaice) is dipped in a batter made from flour, eggs and water and then deep fried in hot fat. Chips are made from thick slices of potato and deep fried.
The best-known British dish eaten at home is roast beef. Roast beef is served with roast potatoes, vegetables and gravy. Yorkshire pudding – batter baked in hot fat in the oven – is also a favourite accompaniment to roast beef.
For recipes and articles about British food visit the What's Cooking Britannia website.
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