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The story of the first Indian to make a fortune on British soil. Of noble origins, Sake Deen Mohammad was the first to open an Indian restaurant and, more importantly, the inventor of the modern shampoo.
From the Bengali nobility
Sake Deen Mahomed was born in 1759 in Pitna, then a Bengali part of British India. His family was Muslim (“Sake Dean Mahomed” is the Anglicization of “Sheikh Deen Mohammad”) and very close to the most powerful family in the area: the Nawab of Bengal; these were a Shiite dynasty that administered the territory on behalf of the Mughals. At 10, he was taken under the wing of Captain Godfrey Evan Baker, serving as a trainee surgeon during the wars against the Maratha. These experiences allowed the young man to get a clearer idea of his country and the crisis he was facing, also cementing his friendship with the captain.
At 10, he was taken under the wing of Captain Godfrey Evan Baker, serving as a trainee surgeon during the wars against the Maratha. These experiences allowed the young man to get a clearer idea of his country and the crisis he was facing, also cementing his friendship with the captain.
The first Indian in the UK
Initially, Deen didn’t head straight to England, preferring to stop first in Cork, where Baker was originally from. From here he will then move to London, where he will find work in the Turkish baths of the nabob Basil Cochrane, here he was able to experiment with the first prototypes of shampoos that he will develop, however, only later. Before him, in fact, he had the opportunity to realize his dream: to open the first Indian restaurant on British soil.
In 1810 the “Hindostane Coffee House” on George Street finally opened its doors, in which, in addition to food, it also offered hookahs and other typical goods of their land. Unfortunately, however, the restaurant did not do as well as hoped and Deen was forced to close it in 1814, thus moving to Brighton. Here he opened his first Turkish baths, offering the final prototype of his shampoo, achieving incredible success. His fame grew faster and faster, so much so that both King George IV and King William IV became regular customers of him. He died only in 1851, transforming British society with objects and flavors that are still part of our daily life today.
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