Royal curry facts and gossip

Curry News

In 1390, at the behest of Richard II, a book called The Forme of Cury was compiled and published. Some argue the word is the pre-runner to the curry we know today.

Queen Victoria’s head clerk Abdul Karim introduced her to chicken curry and pilau rice (Victoria & Abdul, Shrabani Basu)

Queen Victoria once arrived at a curry contest on a horse. Well, at least her Manga character did.

Queen Elizabeth II wrote the foreword to a book by Tommy Miah who is dubbed ‘the curry king’ of Britain. He owns the famous Raj restaurant in Scotland.

Prince Edward loved chicken curry so much he asked it to be on the menu at Buckingham Palace every day for a month (www.thefreelibrary.com)

On Christmas Day Prince Harry joined the Ghurkhas in Gasmir, Helmand Province, Afghanistan as they slaughtered a goat for their traditional Christmas curry (The Sun, 3 March 2008).

Prince Harry liked his goat curries hot, with plenty of curry powder and chillies and ate them twice a week while serving In Afghanistan (Dail Mail, 31 Oct 2008)

A young boy asked Prince Harry what he thought he should put in a food parcel he was packing for the troops in Afghanistan. “Chicken Tikka Masala,” he was told. Apparently it was the Sainsbury’s ready meal he was after (The Sun, 11 Dec 2008).

Prince William and his party of 47 ran up a bill of £1,300 on a visit to Saffron Desi in York. The Prince had the £8 house special called Royal Delight (Daily Telegraph, 8 Feb 2008).

A Royal Coconut Curry Martini was one of the drinks served at the Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on 29 April 2011

Prince William joined the Greenwich Curry Club to give them Royal status on 4 April 2012.

Royal Greenwich Curry Club

Curry News

“I name this group the Royal Greenwich Curry Club.”

“Thank you for coming Wills,” we all said as he tucked into his curry.

“No problem, I’m enjoying this curry. I’ve had it up to here with roast lamb and mashed potatoes. Sheep, sheep, sheep; they’re everywhere I look these days.”

“Well that’s your fault for becoming a helicopter pilot and getting sent to an island in the middle of the Atlantic,” replied our less than diplomatic member.

Luckily Wills (we were becoming chummy by this stage) had already granted the Greenwich Curry Club with its royal status by this stage so there was no turning back.

“It seems only right and proper,” he had announced in a moving ceremony over poppadoms and pickles earlier.

“My grandmother has conferred royal status on the Greenwich Borough. Now the hard-working families of Britain [he copied this bit from the politicians] who love curry can also enjoy such status. From henceforth you will be known as the Royal Greenwich Curry Club.

“Is there any more of this lime pickle?”

The elephant’s ear and Prince William

1. Reviews (London)

Sartaj, London WC2

I’m not sure how big your family is but chances are the Sartaj in London’s West End is used to welcoming very large ones. Its family nan (£4.95 plus £1 if you want it stuffed with garlic, onion, cheese, coriander or mince meat) is ridiculously large at something like 60cm long by 40cm wide but it’s worth ordering just for the experience.

At first glance it looks like a giant pizza and next time I shall order one and pile three or four different curries on it, so maybe it could develop into one eventually. Either way, the elephant ear – as it was dubbed – was certainly enjoyed by the Greenwich Curry Club’s special guest, Prince William, who made an appearance to confer royal status to the curry club.

"I hope you don't think I'm eating all that on my own."

In terms of value, when you consider a normal-sized nan is £2.50, the family nan is exceptional value. But there is good value to be found on all parts of the menu at Sartaj.

The Tandoori Mix for two (£5.95) has sizzling portions of chicken tikka, sheek kebab, king prawn and fried onions, which sends a delicious aroma around this smallish curry house, while the Tandoori Lamb Chops (£3.95) was nice and meaty (although it lacked that deep tandoori taste so it could have benefited from a longer period of marinating). One twist was that puree starters – Chicken Chat Puree and Kebab Bashiri (both £3.95) – were served rolled up in the fried bread, rather than being placed flat on the bread as in most other restaurants.

All mains were served in beautiful deep dishes – ideal, in fact, for dipping in chunks of the family nan (which never seems to get any smaller no matter how many bits are torn off it). Thumbs up go to the Bengal Crab and King Prawn Curry (£10.50), its sauce thickened nicely by a generous amount of shredded crab and good amount of fair-sized prawns, and Nawabi Lamb Massala (£10.50) with its soft meat falling off a shank into a thick and dark bhuna sauce. Both meals are fit for a Prince.

Sartaj, 26 Earlham Street, London, WC2 H9LN. Tel: 020 7831 1413. Open: Mon–Wed noon–2pm and 5.30pm–midnight, Thur–Sun noon–midnight.

Sartaj snapshot

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