IT was 1947, two years after the end of the Second World War, when rationing was still at its height.
Indian restaurants were unheard of on the streets of the Capital. But when Khushi Mohammed became the first in Edinburgh to start serving curries, the popularity of the dishes quickly grew.
The ingredients were basic – lamb, chicken and whatever vegetables were available.
Some of the spices were impossible to source in Scotland, so Mr Mohammed persuaded Indian students who frequented his Potterrow restaurant to smuggle back key ingredients during visits home.
When he died in 1977, his wife, Hamida, took over the reins, becoming the “master chef” of the restaurant while bringing up seven children.
Now, to mark the 80th birthday of the family matriarch, chefs have turned back time and will be serving up original dishes from a basic 1947 menu.
Chefs – more used to preparing today’s tummy-expanding curries – have been working hard to recreate the dishes enjoyed nearly 70 years ago.
The menu features only the basic ingredients that would have been on hand in 1947. Only onion, tomato, ginger and garlic are used for the curry sauces. And they are served with either lamb chop, lamb kofta, mutton or vegetables.
Dhaneshwar Prasad, manager at Khushi’s in Antigua Street, said the ration-era dishes actually have more in common with traditional dishes than today’s takeaways, which have been heavily adapted to suit Western palates.
He said: “When Khushi came he was a salesman at first, and he saw that local people didn’t have Indian food. “So he started making curries. He had a very basic menu. It was small because he couldn’t source many things, but they were home-style dishes. It must have been hard to get things from back home, while now it is easy to get spices.”
One of the key spices that used to be smuggled was ginger. Mr Prasad added: “Mrs Khushi really did work hard to make it a successful business. She still comes in and checks that it is right.”
Jaimon George, group manager, said: “They used to boil the chicken with salt and ginger. The ingredients were all we had.”