In 1926 on London’s Regent Street, Veeraswamy’s restaurant opened to the public serving authentic Indian cuisine. This photograph, taken two years later, shows a group of Punjabi students at the restaurant.
On a first glance, the photograph documents how students from India were arriving in London to continue their education. The photograph also highlights the rise in popularity of the Indian restaurant in Britain.
History of Veeraswamy’s restaurant
In the early 20th century Veeraswamy’s was among a number of Indian restaurants and cafés and soon established itself at the higher end of the market. Set up by Edward Palmer, son of William Palmer and Begum Faiz Bux, the restaurant was popular among politicians and royalty and its clientele also included Indian campaigners for independence.
A specialist in Indian cuisine, Palmer lectured on Indian cooking and was catering advisor to the Indian Government at the 1924–25 Wembley Empire Exhibition. In 1896 he had already set up Veeraswamy & Co. in Hornsey to promote Indian food products, ‘so that they could be used under Western conditions and yet produce Eastern results’. Under the trademark ‘Nizam’ they were sold in many stores and grocers in Britain.