Scotland’s First Curry Returns to the Capital

by Melissa Clark

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Mrs Khushi's 80th Birthday- Back to 1947 EventCurry lovers are getting the chance to spice up their love of Indian cuisine by travelling back in time to taste Scotland’s original curry.

Khushi’s – renowned as the first Indian restaurant in Scotland – is to serve a collection of the original dishes it first cooked up when it launched in 1947.

From chicken shammi kebabs and mince lamb samosas to lamb kofta with chapatti, the range of  basic Indian dishes – based around more traditional, simple methods of cooking – will feature the same ingredients used to give customers their first taste of curry more than six decades ago.

The trip down memory lane is part of a ‘Back to 1947’ event to mark the 80th birthday of co-founder Hamida Khushi.

And those who can show they were among the first to try curry at Khushi’s in the 1940s will get to eat for free at the unique “Back to 1947” event.

General Manager Jaimon George said: “It’s unbelievable how far Khushi’s has come since creating the first curries for Scotland back in 1947.

“Although our cooking methods have changed over the decades, we still use the freshest ingredients we originally used so it will be great to let people literally get a proper taste of how it all began.

“Ingredients tended to be a bit more basic back then as sourcing exotic spices was quite tricky.

“But this will be the perfect opportunity for all lovers of curry  – and indeed anyone who loves international cuisine – in Scotland to sample how the Indian restaurant scene all began.

“This event is also a fantastic way to help us celebrate Mrs Khushi’s milestone birthday and embrace Khushi’s nostalgic past with both new and returning customers.”

For £19.47, diners can select a starter, main course, side and dessert of their choice from the specially designed “Back to 1947” menu which will run from Monday 17th March to Sunday 30th March, excluding Fridays and Saturdays.  The event will run in both Khushi’s Antigua Street and Khushi’s Dunfermline at the same time.

The first Khushi’s restaurant was opened in Edinburgh’s Potterrow by Khushi Mohammed, a penniless Indian immigrant who arrived in Britain in the mid 1930s after being lured by the Commonwealth promise of work and a better life. The restaurant quickly became popular with the city’s growing Asian community, many of whom were students at nearby Edinburgh University, as well as attracting food lovers looking to try new cuisines.

The now-demolished Potterrow restaurant gave way to various locations until, in 1974, it opened in Drummond Street with Khushi’s wife Hamida, replacing him in the kitchen, before son Islam Mohammed took over the business in 1989 and oversaw the move to Victoria Street.

A fire in 2008 destroyed the Victoria Street venue but the business bounced back with the opening of a new flagship restaurant in Antigua Street and its Leith fine-dining restaurant Mithas.

The ‘Back to 1947’ event aims to feature an exhibition of customers’ photographs, old menus and mementos of the restaurant through the decades as well as using customers’ recollections to showcase the event and tell the story of Khushi’s.

Jaimon added: “We’ve been serving customers from all walks of life for decades so it will be great to see anyone who dined with us 50 or even 60 years ago come along and taste the same dishes they would have eaten all those years ago.

“Many of our original customers had a connection with Edinburgh University, given the close location to the restaurant, so there’s a great chance many diners are still in the city.

“Fingers crossed we can welcome back many familiar faces who consider themselves original dinners of Scotland’s first curry and help celebrate Mrs Khushi’s birthday in style.”

Melissa Clark

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