Google Doodle today celebrates the Anglo-Indian author and traveller, Sake Dean Mahomed, who is best known for introducing the concept of ‘champooing’ – massages – to Europe. Mahomed, who was also an entrepreneur, is famous for building cultural connections between India and England. It is Mahomed’s 260th birth anniversary today.
Mahomed is spoken of as the first Indian author to publish a book in English. In 1794, his first book, The Travels of Dean Mahomed, was published.
Among the first notable non-European immigrants to the West, Mahomed opened the first Indian restaurant in London, the Hindoostane Coffee House, in 1810. In 1812, he went bankrupt and was forced to shut the place down.
But his introduction of Indian cuisine to the West stayed. In June 2018, the menu from Sake Mahomed’s restaurant went under the hammer. The menu, which included items like Pineapple Pulao and lobster curries, was sold for GBP 8,500.
Apart from his contribution to the food in the West, Mahomed became popular for offering a steam bath along with a therapeutic massage, that he called ‘shampooing’. The word ‘shampooing’ has its roots in Hindi, in the word ‘champooing’, champi, to the Indian tongue, a head massage.
Mahomed became popular as the ‘Shampooing Surgeon of Brighton’, as his spa attracted the royal and the rich. He later became the personal ‘shampooing surgeon’ of King George IV which was beneficial for his business. The Brighton Museum features a portrait of Sake Dean Mahomed.
Google’s doodle today features a cartoonish image of Mahomed, placed on a bottle, surrounded by coriander leaves on both sides, along with condiments like turmeric, salt and ginger. The doodle encapsulates the two main reasons Mahomed gained popularity for – the introduction of shampooing and Indian cuisine to the West.