Thursday, May 19, 2022

Google Doodle Honoured Him Today, But Who Was Sake Dean Mahomed?

In 1810 after moving to London, he opened the 'Hindostanee Coffee House', Britain's first Indian restaurant.

Google Doodle Honoured Him Today, But Who Was Sake Dean Mahomed?
Google doodle celebrating Sake Dean Mahomed Screengrab

Search giant Google on Tuesday celebrated the legacy of Patna-born entrepreneur Sake Dean Mahomed by dedicating a special doodle to a man of many talents credited with opening the first Indian restaurant in Britain.

Mahomed also became the first Indian to write and publish a book in English (The Travels of Dean Mahomet, 1794).

The doodle shows soap powder, ginger, turmeric and a bottle of shampoo placed in the middle, with mint leaves flanking it, giving the doodle a virtual garnish.

An image of Mahomed, showing his profile is depicted on the bottle, which forms the 'O' in the stylised letters of the doodle, hosted on a day that would have been his 260th birth anniversary.

"A man of many talents, Sake Dean Mahomed was an entrepreneur who made a name for himself by building cultural connections between India and England. On this day in 1794, he became the first Indian author to publish a book in English and later, to open an Indian restaurant in England, ushering in what would become one of Great Britain's most popular cuisines," said Google on its official doodle page.

He also found success as the 'shampooing surgeon' of Brighton, opening a spa in the British seaside town that attracted the rich and royal.

In 1822, King George IV appointed Mahomed as his personal 'shampooing surgeon'. He continued to hold this post under William IV, according to British Library.

"In 1822, Mahomed published 'Shampooing; or Benefits resulting from the use of the Indian medicated vapour bath'. This medical work featured testimonies from his patients, as well as details of the treatment that made him famous.

"Mahomed's decision to publish a work of this kind was canny: the book acted as a marketing tool for his unique baths in Brighton and capitalised on the early 19th century trend for seaside spa treatments," according to the information shared by the library on its website.

Born in Patna, Bihar in 1759, Mahomed initially served as a soldier in the East India Company's Bengal Regiment before arriving in Ireland in 1784 with his colleague Captain Baker, it said, adding that he married Jane Daly.

After moving to London in 1810 Mahomed established the Hindostanee Coffee House at 34, George Street, the first Indian restaurant in Britain.

"The Epicure's Almanack -- an early London restaurant guide -- hailed it as a place for nobility to enjoy hookah and Indian dishes of the highest perfection. Nonetheless, Mahomed was forced to close his luxurious restaurant in 1812 and sought to reinvent himself," according to the Google doodle page which shared the information Tuesday.

He later moved his family to Brighton and opened a spa named Mahomed's Baths offering luxurious herbal steam baths.

"His specialty was a combination of a steam bath and an Indian therapeutic massage -- a treatment he named 'shampooing' inspired by the Hindi word champissage meaning 'a head massage," the doodle page said.

"In 1822, King George IV appointed Mahomed as his personal 'shampooing surgeon', which greatly improved his business. A portrait of Mahomed hangs in the Brighton Museum, commemorating this man who helped merge the cultures of his two homelands. Happy Birthday, Sake Dean Mahomed!," it said.

A plaque commemorates the legacy of the Hindostanee Coffee House in Britain, however, this celebrated man is not known much in his birthplace in Patna.