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n Good Food Feasts from the East


Asian food has come a long way in the past three or four decades, given the enormous choice of restaurants and takeaways in the high streets these days. So, Dawn Kingsford explores our passion for fiery food from the East…


Since the first recipe for curry featured in an English cookbook in 1747, the nation’s palate for Pan-Asian food has never been so spoiled for choice. Now taking in foods from far-flung places including Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Japan, the advent of long-haul holidays, greater availability of exotic foods and


spices, and (according to some) a bland British diet has seen our High Streets respond to the call for specialist cuisine. Indeed, a recent survey* shows restaurants are driving consumption, with 70-80% of us preferring to enjoy Asian food, cooked by specialist chefs, on a night out, rather than tackling the challenges of cooking oriental food at home – a fact that has led to an 18% rise in Chinese, Thai and Japanese restaurants in the last five years.


Asian influence


TV chefs, takeaways and oriental supermarket selections have undoubtedly also helped hone our more adventurous appetites, with 39% of us now tucking in to Thai food regularly, and 20% jumping at the chance to try Japanese dishes, with sushi featuring on the menu 14% more often than two years ago.


The Taste of Bengal Bangladeshi Cuisine


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But the nation’s love affair with Asian food is not only food for the body but also a feast for the mind, loaded with regional variation and tradition. While in England we know our onions, in Asia it’s the rice! Common in most Asian cuisines, basmati is favoured in the subcontinent, jasmine in the southeast, long-grain in China and short-grain in Japan and Korea.


Rich history


Indeed, the rising popularity of Asian food in the UK, offers a rich serving of history – first among the upper classes – and, then, more widely, in the 1940s and 1950s by Bangladeshi investors who bought bombed-out chippies to serve curry and rice late into the night … giving birth to the tradition of eating hot curry after a night on the town. In 2001 the curry gained official


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