Google Doodle on Tuesday, January 15, featured a man of many talents – the enterprising Sake Dean Mahomed – who made a name for himself by building cultural connections between India and England.
On this day in 1794, Mahomed became the first Indian author to publish a book in English, Google wrote in a blog post.
He later opened the first Indian restaurant in England – ushering in what would become one of Great Britain’s most popular cuisines. Mahomed went on to find success as the “The Shampooing Surgeon of Brighton,” opening a spa in the British seaside town that attracted the rich and royal.
Born in 1759 in Patna, Mahomed served in the army of the British East India Company as a trainee surgeon before moving to London in 1810. He opened the Hindostanee Coffee House, which was hailed by the Epicure’s Almanack – an early London restaurant guide –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.
Moving his family to the beachside town of Brighton, he 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.” Mahomed also published a book about the therapeutic benefits of the treatment with testimonials from his patients.
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.