Indian takeaways

Exploring how England eats curry

Jun 2021

Like many of my countrymen, I love curry. So when I stumbled across a dataset containing 31,000 takeaway orders from two restaurants in south London, it was irresistible.

The dataset tells us what people order, the price they pay and when they phone for delivery.

The first time I saw a curry menu was as a kid in the 80's. I remember being overwhelmed by the enormous range of options but after demolishing the chicken korma my parents forced on me, I was hooked. Then I wanted to try everything else on the menu too.

In essence though these enormous menus are very simple.

Restaurants offer a fixed range of cooking styles (korma, madras, etc) and use a number of base ingredients (chicken, lamb, paneer, etc). These permutations combine to create the varied menus we all know and love.

Brits all have their go-to favourites. It's also common for us to try each other's dishes (much to Smithy's disgust) for fear of missing out. Is there a better curry than the one I always order?

Since flavour combinations are a key theme around our dinner tables, it's what I concentrated on in the final visualisation:

It turns out I'm a very predicatable curry eater: Chicken Tikka Masala and pilau rice are clear favourites.

(And almost nobody eats vindaloo anymore.)

Making this visualisation

Qlik Sense is the tool I use most right now so I used it to do the data cleaning and analysis.

Exploring the flavour combinations (which you can see on the arc diagram on the left) needed some data categorisation by hand. Since Qlik has no arc diagram, I used to render this key part of the visual.

Having fixed on the key messages, I then went hunting for styling inspiration. Google image search provided lots of layout samples from real takeway menus which are mostly A4 sized, folded into three and use columnar layouts to list dishes and prices. This free vector from nightwolfdezines provided the colour palette, font idea and motifs.

The final result was pulled together in Figma. Tables were simply typed by hand and the bar chart and radial plot were copied over from my Qlik workbook.