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Dear Editor

I was listening to ‘Ruby Murray’ on BBC Radio 4 on 9th April 2010 at 11am. The programme looked at why the British are mad about curry - ‘Ruby Murray’ in Cockney rhyming slang - and Alkarim Jivani spoke to curry lovers north and south of the border to find out how curry came to be so intimately linked with the British sense of identity.

Historically, the English have been seen as distrustful of foreigners and wary of foreign food. So the nation’s long love affair with curry - which is as much working class as colonial - is a surprising one. Even more curious is how this passion for curry is now recognised as part of the British iden- tity. Vindaloo was the unofficial song of England’s 1998 World Cup team - an unlikely battle cry for English football fans. In 2001, Robin Cook, then Foreign Secretary, declared that chicken tikka masala was the nation’s most popu- lar dish. Chicken tikka masala is even included by the Ministry of Defence in its operational ration packs to bring the troops some home comfort. Contributors included Madhur Jaffrey, Atul Kochhar, Enam Ali, Peter Grove and Namita Panjabi.

But I was very disappointed with Madhur Jaffrey’s remark (ghost food) and Sraboni Basu’s comment on ‘one pot sauce’ regarding the Indian res- taurants in UK which leave much to be desired. By ‘ghost food’ Madhur meant no idea of real curry. The question is what real curry is. About 75 percent of the 10,000 plus Indian restaurants in the UK are run by Bangladeshis. Also the chefs are mostly Bangladeshis and

Spice Business Magazine

Indian. Some of these restaurants did bring in Indian chefs from Calcutta and Bombay, presumably to give a new twist to their dishes, but you hear a lot of diners commenting the food they eat in these restaurants is better than what they ate in India on their visits. As the old saying goes ’the taste of pud- ding lies in its eating’.

There are Indian chefs here who have been educated and trained at presti- gious institutes and chains of hotels in India. They make good speakers in TV shows and write best sellers on cook- ing. But let us not forget the fact that Bangladeshis have a long history of cooking meals for the British. The East India Company employed Bengalis in their ships as early as the 16th century who cooked and served for the ladies and some of them settled in England. Let us not forget that our first genera- tion invented recipes and were able to cook individual dishes on the spot like in English and French restaurants.

As to the other remark about ‘one pot sauce’ I can assure you Indian cooking from the days of the Moghuls to the five star hotels of today has been of Handi type – slow cooking in one cavernous pot and then reheating upon receiving order. If this ‘one pot gravy’ is wrong how come the French and the English are still following it in making stocks!

Yours sincerely,

Murtaza Chowdhury Lancashire

Dear Editor

I run an Indian restaurant, which was short listed for the best 100 restau- rants in UK by British Curry Awards in 2009. I attended the awards ceremony with some friends who had booked a table in their name. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, the best I have ever witnessed. When it ended I lined up to collect my plaque, but I was informed it had not been brought there.

I phoned British Curry Awards office but could not get through, not to my surprise because it was the very next day after the gala event. I was des- perate because the following day the local newspaper wanted to take a photo shoot of my staff and I holding the plaque in front of my restaurant. I missed the opportunity. The reporter phoned British Curry Awards to verify the truth of my statement.

Then somebody phoned me and explained the whole British Curry Award procedure, which I fully under- stood and appreciated. It was my error; I shouldn’t have gone to the awards cer- emony under somebody else’s name without any evidence of my name. My apology goes to all concerned. Eventually I received the plaque from British Curry Awards but in no way I can make good the missed opportu- nity of showcasing the British Curry Awards plaque at my restaurant for quite a while. I hope the future con- tenders for British Curry Awards will learn a lesson from my mistake.

Yours sincerely Shariful Miah Manchester

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