Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Sake Dean Mahomet
Born in Patna in 1759, around the age of eleven Mahomet was taken on by a young Irishman, Godfrey Evan Baker, who was quartermaster of the 3rd European Regiment of the Bengal Army – the British East India Company's military force in India. As a follower of Mr Baker, Mahomet rose through the ranks to become a subadar (a mid-ranking officer and the highest an Indian could achieve). When Baker returned to Ireland in the 1780s Mahomet joined him, settling to run Baker's small estate outside Cork. During this time he became the first Indian to write and publish a book in English – The Travels of Dean Mahomet. Here he fell for and eloped with a "pretty Irish girl of respectable parentage", Jane Daly. They married in Dublin when Mahomet converted to Christianity. After the untimely death of Mr Baker, Mahomet journeyed to London where he managed the household of the Nabob, the Honourable Basil Cochrane. He opened The Hindostanee Coffee House in 1810, which purveyed Indian dishes "allowed by the greatest epicures to be unequalled to any curries ever made in England".