Sake Dean Mahomed

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Sheikh Deen Mohammad
Sake Dean Mahomed.jpg
Sake Dean Mahomed by Thomas Mann Baynes (c. 1810)
Sheikh Din Muhammad

c. 1759
Died1851 (aged 91–92)
Brighton, Sussex, England
Spouse(s)Jane Daly
ChildrenRossana Mahomed
Henry Mahomed
Horatio Mahomed
Frederik Mahomed
Arthur Mahomed
Dean Mahomed
Amelia Mahomed

Sake Dean Mahomed (1759–1851) was an Indian traveller, surgeon and entrepreneur who was one of the most notable early non-European immigrants to the Western World.[1] He introduced Indian cuisine and shampoo baths to Europe, where he offered therapeutic massage.[note 1] He was also the first Indian to publish a book in English.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

"so long as the Sepoy's maintain their formations, which they call 'lines,' they are like an immovable volcano spewing artillery and rifle fire like unrelenting hail on the enemy, and they are seldom defeated."

Sake Dean Mahomed, Travels of Dean Mahomed

Born in 1759 in the city of Patna, then part of the Bengal Presidency, Mahomed came from Buxar. His father, who belonged to the traditional Nai (barber) caste, was employed by the British East India Company. He had studied alchemy and understood the methods used to produce various alkalis, soaps and shampoo. He later described the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II and the cities of Allahabad and Delhi in rich detail and recorded the faded glories of the Mughal Empire.

Sake Dean Mahomed grew up in Patna, and his father died when Mahomed was young. At the age of 10, he was taken under the wing of Captain Godfrey Evan Baker, an Anglo-Irish Protestant officer. Mahomed served in the army of the East India Company as a trainee surgeon and served against the Marathas. Mahomed also mentions how Mir Qasim and most of the entire Bengali Muslim aristocracy had lost their famed wealth. He complained about Shuja-ud-Daula's campaign against his Rohilla allies and how Hyder Ali defeated the British during the Battle of Pollilur. Mahomed remained with Captain Baker until 1782, when the Captain resigned. That same year, Mahomed also resigned from the Army, choosing to accompany Captain Baker, 'his best friend', to Britain.[4]

The Travels of Dean Mahomed[edit]

In 1794, Mahomed published his travel book, titled The Travels of Dean Mahomed. The book begins with the praise of Genghis Khan, Timur and particularly the first Mughal Emperor Babur. It later describes several important cities in India and a series of military conflicts with local Indian principalities.

Editor Michael Fisher suggested that some passages in the book were closely paraphrased from other travel narratives written in the late 18th century.[5]

Restaurant venture[edit]

In 1810, after moving to London, Sake Dean Mahomed opened the first Indian restaurant in England: the Hindoostane Coffee House in George Street, near Portman Square, Central London.[6] The restaurant offered, among other items, hookah "with real chilm tobacco, and Indian dishes, ... allowed by the greatest epicures to be unequalled to any curries ever made in England." This venture came to an end due to financial difficulties.[7]

Introduction of shampooing to Europe[edit]

Mahomed was buried at St Nicholas' Church, Brighton.

Before opening his restaurant, Mahomed had worked in London for nabob Basil Cochrane, who had installed a steam bath for public use in his house in Portman Square and promoted its medical benefits. Mahomed may have been responsible for introducing the practice of champooi or "shampooing" (or Indian massage) there. In 1814, Mahomed and his wife moved back to Brighton and opened the first commercial "shampooing" vapour masseur bath in England, on the site now occupied by the Queen's Hotel. He described the treatment in a local paper as "The Indian Medicated Vapour Bath (type of Turkish bath), a cure to many diseases and giving full relief when every thing fails; particularly Rheumatic and paralytic, gout, stiff joints, old sprains, lame legs, aches and pains in the joints".[8]

This business was an immediate success and Dean Mahomed became known as "Dr. Brighton". Hospitals referred patients to him and he was appointed as shampooing surgeon to both King George IV and William IV.[8]


In 1784, Mahomed emigrated to Cork, Ireland, with the Baker family.[4] There he studied to improve his English language skills at a local school, where he fell in love with Jane Daly, a "pretty Irish girl of respectable parentage". The Daly family was opposed to their relationship, so the couple eloped to another town to get married in 1786.[4][9] At that time it was illegal for Protestants to marry non-Protestants, so Mahomed converted to Anglicanism to marry Jane Daly.[10] They moved to Brighton, England, at the turn of the 19th century."[11]

Sake Dean Mahomed and his wife Jane had seven children: Rosanna, Henry, Horatio, Frederick, Arthur,[9] Dean Mahomed (baptised in the Roman Catholic church of St. Finbarr's, Cork, in 1791)[12] and Amelia (b. 1808).[13] His son, Frederick, was a proprietor of Turkish baths at Brighton[14] and also ran a boxing and fencing academy near Brighton. His most famous grandson, Frederick Henry Horatio Akbar Mahomed (c. 1849–1884), became an internationally known physician[9] and worked at Guy's Hospital in London. He made important contributions to the study of high blood pressure.[15] Another of Sake Dean Mahomed's grandsons, Rev. James Kerriman Mahomed, was appointed as the vicar of Hove, Sussex, in the late 19th century.[9]


Mahomed died in 1851 (aged 91–92) at 32 Grand Parade, Brighton. He was buried in a grave at St Nicholas Church, Brighton, in which his son Frederick was later interred. Frederick taught fencing, gymnastics and other activities in Brighton at a gymnasium he built on the town's Church Street.[16]


Sake Dean Mahomed began to lose prominence by the Victorian era and until recently[when?] was largely forgotten by history. The modern renewal of interest in his writings developed after poet and scholar Alamgir Hashmi drew attention to this author in the 1970s and 1980s. The literary critic Muneeza Shamsie notes that he wrote the books Cases Cured and Shampooing Surgeon, Inventor of the Indian medicated Vapour and Sea Water Baths etc.[8]Michael H. Fisher has written a book on Sheikh Dean Mahomet: The First Indian Author in English: Dean Mahomed in India, Ireland, and England (Oxford University Press, Delhi — 1996).

On 29 September 2005 the City of Westminster unveiled a Green Plaque commemorating the opening of the Hindoostane Coffee House.[6] The plaque is at 102 George Street, close to the original site of the coffee house at 34 George Street.[17]

On 15 January 2019, Google recognized Sake Dean Mahomed with a Google Doodle on the main page.[18]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ The word "shampoo" did not take on its modern meaning of washing the hair until the 1860s. See p. 197 in The travels of Dean Mahomet, and "shampoo", v., entry, p. 167, Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., vol. 15, ISBN 0-19-861227-3.


  1. ^ The travels of Dean Mahomet, pp. 148–149, 155–156, 160.
  2. ^ Fisher, Michael H. (15 February 2000). "The First Indian Author in English: Dean Mahomed (1759-1851) in India, Ireland, and England". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 15 January 2019 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ Desk, Devdiscourse News. "Sake Dean Mahomed, The first Indian to publish a book in English - Devdiscourse News". Devdiscourse. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "Dean Mahomed's Early Life in India". Moving Here: Tracing Your Roots. Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  5. ^ Fisher 1998 p. 138-140.
  6. ^ a b "Curry house founder is honoured". BBC News. 29 September 2005. Retrieved 9 October 2008.
  7. ^ Husainy, Abi. "Records Held at the National Archives". Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  8. ^ a b c Teltscher, Kate (2000). "The Shampooing Surgeon and the Persian Prince: Two Indians in Early Nineteenth-century Britain". Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 1469-929X. 2 (3): 409–23. doi:10.1080/13698010020019226.
  9. ^ a b c d Ansari, Humayun (2004), The Infidel Within: The History of Muslims in Britain, 1800 to the Present, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, p. 58, ISBN 978-1-85065-685-2
  10. ^ "In 1786....Dean Mahomet eloped with a teenage woman student. Suggestion of the haste or desire for privacy of this marriage comes from their decision to post a bond with the church where they were married rather than have the banns read for weeks previously from the pulpit, as was customary. This substantial bond would then indemnify the church should the marriage prove illegal. Any wedding between a Protestant and a Catholic was unlawful at this time in Ireland, with the officiating clergyman held responsible. Although Dean Mahomet must have already become a member of the established Protestant Church, we can imagine a lingering doubt in the mind of the clergyman who performed the wedding of this unusual couple, particularly since they had eloped." From "The Travels of Dean Mahomet". Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  11. ^ Ansari, Humayun (2004), The Infidel Within: The History of Muslims in Britain, 1800 to the Present, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, pp. 57–8, ISBN 978-1-85065-685-2
  12. ^ "Dean Mahomed baptism". Irish Genealogy. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  13. ^ "Dean Mahomed in London". Moving Here: Tracing Your Roots. Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  14. ^ "Mahomed, Frederick Henry Horatio Akbar". Royal College of Physicians. Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  15. ^ O'Rourke, Michael F. (1992), "Frederick Akbar Mahomed", Hypertension, 19 (2): 212–217 [212–3], doi:10.1161/01.hyp.19.2.212, PMC 2308176, PMID 1737655
  16. ^ Collis 2010, p. 187.
  17. ^ City of Westminster green plaques "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 July 2012. Retrieved 7 July 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Celebrating Sake Dean Mahomed".


External links[edit]