At the British Curry Awards, in partnership with Just Eat, last night’s winners were a family-run restaurant as well as a chain fast-food joint and starred Michelin-starred eatery.
The restaurants, nominated for by the public, were announced at the trailblazing and foremost celebration of the industry as it returned for its 17th year after the pandemic challenges.
Dubbed the ‘Oscars of the Curry World’ by former Prime Minister David Cameron, restaurateurs from across the UK descended on the capital in the hope of being recognised as the best restaurant in their region and honoured with a jewel in the crown of the UK curry restaurant industry.
Saturday Kitchen star Atul Kochhar – the Indian first chef to be awarded a Michelin star – was among the winners as his newly opened restaurant in Westminster.
Mathura Restaurant is located in Westminster’s historic fire station. They won the Best Newcomer award for their ability to showcase cuisines from Iran, Afghanistan Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The British Curry Awards were presented by Just Eat and included a number of restaurants including a family-run establishment, a fast-food chain and starred restaurant.
Maliks Express Kitchen, Buckinghamshire, won the award for best takeaway. They impressed judges with their delicious menu, which included succulent roast duck in coconut milk and tender lamb in shallots.
Elsewhere, Khai Khai Indian Restaurant of Newcastle has been awarded the Most Innovative Restaurant Award for their Victorian dining rooms that feature eclectic Indian cuisine and plenty vegan options.
Dishoom was awarded the title of best curry restaurant in Scotland. Dishoom is a new chain founded in London 10 year ago.
Their Edinburgh branch pays homage to Iranian food served by Zoroastrian immigrants in Bombay – as well as general Indian street food.
Meanwhile, Benares was named the best curry restaurant in London. The Michelin-starred Mayfair curry house serves the likes of Scottish scallops or Kentish lamb, which is cleverly balanced modern techniques with recognisable flavours and spicing. Shampan Bromley won the title of best restaurant in Greater London.
In the North East, Mumtaz Restaurant in Bradford got the top gong while Asha’s in Manchester was named the best in the north east.
In the East Midlands – often thought of as the curry capital of the UK – Montaz in Newmarket took home the best prize, while Pushkar Restaurant in Birmingham’s Broad Street was the top in the West Midlands.
Purple Poppadom in Cardiff was named the best in Wales, while Chez Mumtaz in St Albans was the best in the South East and Prithvi Restaurant, in Cheltenham was named the best in the South West.
Organisers said this year’s event was particularly significant due to the difficulties faced by the industry in the last 18 months because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
British Curry Awards Founder, Enam Ali MBE told FEMAIL: ‘What a year we have had – full of highs and lows as we have come out of the pandemic and had to try and rebuild our businesses after lockdowns. Although the support from our customers was amazing, there are still many challenges.
“The British Curry Awards has always stood up to support the industries that matter. The so-called vindaloo visa has made it possible to address the problem of chef shortages. Your cause will be protected. We are heard by the government.
“This year, we received many reports about restaurants who had been awarded four to five star’scores’ by local environmental health officials in the past but have now been reduced to one or two stars. We are hearing that restaurants often get marked down due to minor technical violations. These minor technical infringements can be corrected quickly, but they often require a six-month wait to be reassessed. It is unfair, and many businesses already facing financial difficulties are at risk of being shut down as a result.
“What we ask for is that the government requires local authorities to use a quicker appeal and recertification procedure, so that people who have been marked down are reassessed in just 4-6 weeks rather than 4-6 months. This inflexible process is going to prove that we are unable to contribute in any way in helping our streets recover.
Boris Johnson sent a support message and said that he was delighted to see one of our most prestigious events, the Curry Oscars back in action. It’s amazing to recognize the talent of these curry chefs who for many decades have offered delicious medleys.
‘Throughout the most difficult time in our lives, you’ve responded with creativity and determination, providing food for the NHS Heroes and transporting mopeds fleets across the country to add spice and joy to millions of homes.
“And now, I’m happy to say that customers are returning in large numbers and curry houses along the length of these islands have been bustling once more. There are over 10,000 such places across the United Kingdom.
‘That’s 200 for every city, more in London than in Mumbai and since the British Curry Awards are now in their 17th year with a record number of nominations, we’re not just building back better we’re building back balti and I want to thank you all – restaurants, chefs and waiters for blessing us with your flavoursome morsels.’
Andrew Kenny is the UK managing director of Just Eat. He says that it’s an honor to sponsor once more the British Curry Awards. It’s been an extremely challenging year for takeaway and restaurant owners, and now is the perfect time to recognize the hardworking and resilient individuals in the sector.
The many difficulties faced by restaurants, such as shortages in supply chains and difficult recruitment of skilled workers, have not stopped them from rising to the occasion. They offer customers normality at a time when it is most needed. We want to ensure that takeaway restaurants – especially in this sector which contributes so much to British culture – don’t just survive, but thrive, in today’s challenging economic climate.’
The ceremony featured stars such as cricketer Azeem Rahiq, Love Island Star, Priya Paldas and Danielle Mason. Sian Gabbidon was also present.
Omid Djalili, actor and comedian hosted the ceremony. Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan was present virtually to receive the award in the Best Restaurant West Midlands category.