I love this story:
Historians have found that Britain’s first Indian restaurant was opened in 1809, in the midst of the Napoleonic wars and during the period in which Austen set Pride and Prejudice.
The Hindoostane Coffee House was established by Sake Dean Mahomed, an Indian-born entrepreneur, as a purveyor of Oriental food of the “highest perfection” in Marylebone, London, which at the time was a residential district for the well-off.
In my area of Pimlico, central London, there is an Indian restaurant right near my flat (aaahhh!) – said to be one of the oldest in London, dating back to the 1950s. But it appears that this now-established feature of culinary life has been going on since the age of Nelson, Wellington and William Wordsworth. An early example, in fact, of culinary globalization. It is not, in fact, all that surprising, since the desire for eastern spices and foodstuffs was an important economic incentive behind much of global trade at that time.
I can imagine how this story is going to change all those costume dramas set in the early 19th Century: “Pray excuse me sir X, but I am in urgent need of a chicken korma.”