Mahatma Gandhi ate in Notting Hill

Mahatma Gandhi, who was born in Porbandar (Gujarat), travelled to London occasionally. On one of his visits (in 1909) he ate dinner with VD Savarkar, who was later to become a ‘father’ of Hindutva and Hindu Nationalism. Soon after that, Savarkar was arrested by the British.

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Today, 36 Ledbury Road (illustrated) in London’s trendy Notting Hill district (made famous by the 1999 film Notting Hill starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts) gives nothing away about its colourful past. It was once the home of the Indian Catering Company, a restaurant run by Nizam-ud-Din, who also owned the Eastern Café near Chancery Lane.

The Indian Catering Company, which was serving customers during the reign of Edward VII (1901-10) was not the first Indian restaurant to have been opened in London. The first curry house in London was opened by Sake Dean Mahomet (born in India in the 18th century). An employee of the East India Company, which he joined in 1769, he arrived in London in 1807. Two years later, he opened his Hindostanee Coffee House at 34 George Street near Portman Square. Although it was called a ‘coffee house’, it was actually a restaurant…

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