The curry industry in America has really only developed to any
mass extent over the past twenty years and yet it has been well known
almost as long as has been known in Britain.
In 1840, some 30 years after the first Indian restaurant had
opened in London, Eliza Leslie included curry in her new cookbook,
Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches by Eliza Leslie, 1840
Her father, a watchmaker of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was a
personal friend of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and others.
Eliza was born in Philadelphia and accompanied her parents to England
in 1793. After her return to the United States in 1800, she resided
chiefly in Philadelphia. Her first compositions were in verse. In her
fortieth year she published her first prose work, a cookery-book,
which met with a large sale. Later, after obtaining a prize for her
story "Mrs. Washington Potts," which was published in
Godey's Lady's Book, she adopted literature as a profession. She also
wrote the 1851 edition of Direction for Cookery.
Chicken Curry(from the book)
2 chickens, broken down into breasts, thighs, and legs; marinated
in a salt water brine at least a half hour.
To make the curry paste:
2 tablespoons powdered ginger
1 tablespoon powdered turmeric
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon mace
½ teaspoon cardamom
3 medium onions
Make the curry paste: combine all ingredients in a food processor
and blend until it forms a paste. Place a quart of water over heat to
boil. When it comes to a boil, add the curry paste and simmer until
dissolved. Keep at a boil until you are ready to pour it over the chicken.
Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry. Heat a generous amount
of butter in a pan, then add chicken pieces. Fry, skin side down,
until brown. Add the curry water, adding more water if necessary to
cover the chicken completely. Simmer until chicken is cooked and
tender. Add two tablespoons of butter kneaded with an equal quantity
of flour. Simmer until the sauce has thickened. Serve with boiled rice.
Despite this, Indian food has been slow to find its way into the
hearts (and stomachs) of cities around the United States. There are
now more than 300 restaurants that serve cuisine from across the
subcontinent in New York City alone compared to the mere 20 Indian
restaurants that could be found in the Big Apple in the early 1980s.."
However, Indian food isn't anywhere nearly as popular as it should
be. There are more than 40,000 Chinese restaurants around the
country, and roughly the same number of Mexican restaurants, but only
about 5,000 - 8000 Indian restaurants..
Which begs the question: Why? How could a cuisine which has been
long been heralded by chefs, cherished by foodies, and even studied
by food scientists, fail to catch on as quickly as other ethnic
foods? Could it be a certain lack of appreciation for the skill
required to make Indian food. The cuisine is among the most labour
intensive in the world, and yet Americans are unwilling to pay beyond
a certain, and decidedly low, price point.
An example of a restaurant that had trouble selling pricier Indian
fare played out at Tabla, Danny Meyer's contemporary Indian
restaurant in New York City, which was forced to close in 2010 after
realizing that upscale Indian simply wasn't sustainable.
The main problem seems to have been when there was a downturn in
the economy, especially in the years following the recession, people
became much more judicious about when and how they went out to eat
and Indian restaurants took a good deal of the brunt. It's unclear
how many restaurants were forced to close, but it seems the number is significant.
People would not spend money on Indian food, especially not
expensive Indian food, which basically shows the global hierarchy of
taste. Indian food has not been as desirable as other foods in
America, so people would rather pay for something else that they want
more. There are, of course, hopes that this will change.