LONDON: Call it food colonialism in reverse, but a British food manufacturer has started selling samosas in India, from where the delights of spicy dishes caught the imagination of the British palate 200 years ago.
Farsan, an Indian food company based in the east Midlands town of Leicester, has opened a new factory in Gujarat to produce snacks such as samosas and bhajis.
Leicester offers many delights of Indian vegetarian cuisine.
The first Indian restaurant in Britain was opened by a Patna resident Sake Dean Mohammad in London in 1810.
He established the Hindoostan Coffee House at 34 George Street, Portman Square.
Farsan managing director Nainesh Patel is in India on a two-week tour to promote the new factory and market his products to supermarket chains.
He said: “There’s huge potential for UK companies in India.
Although we are a UK company selling snack foods such as samosas to an Indian market, we give the product a British twist so it has a unique taste for Indian customers.
Farsan is one of several firms which have strengthened ties with India with support from UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), and the move comes as Business Secretary Vince Cable leads a major business delegation to India.
Patel’s export ambitions ties in with growing evidence that despite recession and immigration, the $3 billion Indian restaurant industry continues to grow.
Britons’ continuing love affair with spicy curry has ensured that restaurants expand and ready-made Indian meals fly off the shelves in supermarkets.
The overall number of people visiting Indian restaurants is down, but industry figures show that entrepreneurs who have switched to supplying ready-made Indian meals have seen their business soar, and some are struggling to meet supermarket demands.
Leicester-based Sanjay Foods has seen its turnover soar by 50 per cent to $1.5 million and has now formed a partnership with a London-based caterer Chak 89 after winning several prestigious contracts. (MORE) PTI PS
Other successful Indian food companies have seen their business grow in major supermarkets.
These include Desford-based Simtom Food Products, which supplies Indian food products at supermarkets Asda and Aldi.
Bobby’s, a prominent Indian restaurant in Leicester, opened up a takeaway counter at Asda, making it the first restaurant to enter into an agreement like this with a supermarket chain.
One of the beneficiaries of the recession-induced growth in Indian ready-made meals is Oxford-based Kiran Bhandari, who recently landed a $300,000 deal to sell her home-made curry sauces in Asda supermarkets.
Bhandari began mass-producing her Indian table sauces after pupils at her cooking classes hailed them as the best they had ever tasted.
She is now working full-time with her daughter Anu to keep up with demand, as the tasty sauces are snapped up by curry-mad cooks.
“Given the current climate, you would think this would be the worst time to launch a new brand, but we’ve found the range is already selling extremely well. I realized there was a gap in the market when the pupils started telling how much they enjoyed it,” Bhandari said.