Ruby Murray – The Secret Story of Curry

Presenter: Alkarim Jivani
BBC Radio 4 – April 2010

Producers: Catriona Oliphant & Ian Willox
Executive Producer: Simon Berthon

Radio choices: The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, The Sunday Telegraph, RadioTimes, Time Out, and BBC Radio 4’s Pick of the Week.

The British are mad about curry – ‘Ruby Murray’ in Cockney rhyming slang.  Alkarim Jivani investigates how curry came to be so intimately linked with the British sense of identity.

Historically, the English have been seen as distrustful of foreigners and wary of foreign food.  So the nation’s long love affair with curry – which is as much working class as colonial – is a surprising one.  Even more curious is how this passion for curry is now recognised as part of the British identity.  Vindaloo was the unofficial song of England’s 1998 World Cup team – an unlikely battlecry for English football fans.  In April 2001, the then Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, announced that ‘Chicken Tikka Massala is now a true British national dish . . .’  Chicken tikka masala is even included by the Ministry of Defence in its operational ration packs to bring the troops some home comfort.

Contributors include: Madhur Jaffrey, whose enormously popular 1982 BBC series Madhur’s Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery revolutionised British Indian cuisine; Michelin-starred chef, Atul Kochhar (Great British Menu, Saturday Kitchen), known for his masterful use of spices and the Indian twist he brings to modern British cuisine; Namita Panjabi, Group Director, Masala World (Veeraswamy, Chutney Mary, Amaya, and Masala Zone); and Neil Hind at Defence Food Services, Defence Equipment and Support, Ministry of Defence (Defence Equipment and Support buys equipment and supports the UK army, navy and airforce around the world).

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