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History of Sake Dean Mahomet

 

 

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Sake Dean Mahomet was born in 1759 in Patna, India into an elite Muslim family. In 1769, aged 11, when his father died in 1769, Mahomet fulfilled his childhood ambition to follow in his father’s footsteps and joined the military as a camp follower of Godfrey Baker who was an Irish Cadet.

Despite having risen to the rank of subedar (the equivalent to a British Lieutenant) as had his father before him, in 1782 at the age of 23, he left the army to accompany his “patron” Captain Baker, who had been dismissed from the service. In1784 Mahomet arrived at Dartmouth and journeyed on to Ireland where he spent several years with the Baker family in Cork. It was here that he met his wife, Jane Daly, who was said to have been from an Irish family of “rank” and in 1786 they eloped, got married then returned to Cork where they set up home and had several children.

Mahomet moved to London around 1807 and took up residence in Portman Square which was then a fashionable area popular with well off ex-British administrators in India (nawabs).

In 1809 he opened what is now considered to be the first Indian restaurant in London - The Hindoostanee Coffee-House - at 34 George Street, Portman Square, which was primarily aimed at Anglo-Indians, being decorated with Indian scenes and offering Indian dishes which were hailed as ‘unequalled to any curries ever made in England'. Unfortunately, having over-stretched himself financially, he was declared a bankrupt in 1812.

He eventually moved to Brighton and opened an Indian vapour baths and shampooing establishment – a far cry from a restaurant. He died in February 1851 and was buried in St Nicholas' churchyard in Brighton.

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