Whether it's Bhunas or Biriyanis you prefer, we are eating more curries in Britain than ever before.

Even former foreign secretary Robin Cook declared chicken tikka masala our national dish in 2001 after a major poll by Gallup. But where in the world did this favourite Friday night takeaway originate from?

Known as the English description of a variety of spicy dishes, curry has roots in a number of exotic locations including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri-lanka, Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and China. But some believe more specifically that its origins lie in India, from where in the 18th Century, British colonists bought it to the West.

Other theories tell us that the earliest known recipe for meat in spicy sauce appeared on tablets found near Babylon dated around 1700 B.C. and that it was actually only the word Curry that originated from India, adapted by the English Raj.

Some even suggest that perhaps the Great British National dish, actually did come from England after all, with a revolution in English cooking during the reign of Richard I, where those with considerable wealth were regularly using ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg cloves and other ingredients found in such spicy dishes.

Cookery books brandishing spicy recipes then appeared in Richard II reign between 1377 and 1399, prompting a whole host of chefs including Hannah Glasse in 1747 and Stephana Malcom in 1791 to come up with different recipes for the nation's favourite dish. Later in Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 14 curry recipes are included.

One thing and one thing only is a dead cert and that is that we can all be sure that with over 9,000 curry houses in Britain, this mouth-watering dish remains a firm favourite amongst many households and with local restaurants trying out new ideas, there's more choice to tantalise your taste buds than ever - so get out there and spice up your life.