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The Spice City Journal | February 26, 2018

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Edinburgh’s spicy Mithas is named best restaurant in Scotland

June 11, 2014 | User

An Edinburgh Indian restaurant has been branded the best restaurant in Scotland.

Mithas in Leith caused a stir as it became the first Indian restaurant to win the top prize at the Catering in Scotland Excellence Awards.

Judges praised the restaurant for blazing a spicy trail in Indian cuisine, commenting: “When you visit, it is advisable to leave whatever you think or know about Indian cooking at the door.”

As the only Scottish Indian restaurant to appear in the Michelin Guide, Mithas is also the only Indian restaurant outside of London to have won two rosettes, setting it apart from more conventional curry houses.

Mithas’ chefs learned their cooking craft on the subcontinent, and have been poached from top restaurants in London and India.

The nine-course tasting menu they present is a cornucopia of traditional Indian flavours – but manager Jaimon George warns that diners expecting the usual takeaway staples of korma and tikka masala may be disappointed. Many of the UK’s favourite curries were designed for palates in this country, he explained, and bear no resemblance to the authentic Indian food served at Mithas.

We wanted to create something unique,” he said. “You can’t knock them, because they are dishes that people like,” he added. “But with the Indian chefs coming from India and cooking Indian food properly, as opposed to what it was before, it isn’t the same.”

Neil Thomson, chairman of the judging panel, said: “Indian restaurants have kept growing in popularity throughout the UK, and Scottish people in particular have taken them to their hearts.

The quality and innovation shown by many Indian restaurant chefs have taken the sector to new levels.”


Craft beer takes off in India

June 11, 2014 | User

Brands like Cobra and Kingfisher are synonymous with curry in most UK Indian restaurants and in India the latter has more than 50 per cent of the beer market.

But in Bangolore a new passion for craft beer is slowly taking hold, according to a report by the BBC.

The Biere Club bar, just kilometres from Kingfisher HQ has seen demand for the American rice lager, malt stout and Belgian-style beers grow as the IT crowd from that part of town flock to taste something different.

The bar – Bangalore’s first ‘brewpub’ – opened three years ago with a small brewery on site. But Biere Club founder Arvind Raju says “it’s become very competitive” as the craft beer culture has taken off and a number of other bars have popped up in the city.

But we have some loyal customers,” he says, adding “we have to make sure we have a variety of beers and keep the quality high so that they come back.”

The new bar owners put the success down to the US craft beer boon that has been steadily growing over the last decade. Gaurav Sikka, managing director of the Arbor Brewing Company says this has had an impact on the scene in Europe and India.

There’s a large population of young people in India, and many have travelled extensively,” Mr Sikka says. “They’ve been introduced to fine lifestyle products and craft beer is one of them. We’re making beer with the best ingredients sourced from around the world so these are essentially artisanal products and people in India have a taste for them.”

Mr Sikka got the inspiration for his business in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It sells US-style drinks but the Mango Maibock brew, for example, is one beer that shows how India is developing its own flavours with a twist on a German lager using the in-season fruit.

Opening brewpubs has become easier in Bangalore after changes were made to policies on licensing, yet the craft beer market only takes a tiny percentage of total beer sales.

But the market looks set to grow as more and more young professionals seek out the quality products.

We’ve had the domination by Kingfisher for decades,” says Madan Kumar, an Arbor regular. “But the liberalisation brought in more foreign beers, and now the craft beers, so there are always new things to try.”

For the full story visit the BBC.


Food and drink industry should be regulated by Government

May 20, 2014 | User

Calls for the food and drink industry to be regulated are growing as health issues associated with obesity continue to rise.

Consumers International and the World Obesity Federation are demanding that the industry be regulated in the same way as the tobacco industry with obesity now posing a greater global health risk, reports the BBC.

Deaths worldwide from obesity related illness rose by nearly a million between 2005 and 2010, from 2.6 million to 3.4 million – an increase of more than 30 per cent.

The CI and WOF said world governments should impose compulsory rules for the food and drink industry. Governments could review food prices, introduce taxes, change licensing controls and start new research to make this happen.

They propose reducing the levels of salt, saturated fat and sugar in food and the removal of artificial trans-fats from all food and drink products within five years.  They said government could improve food served in hospitals and schools.

They also said stricter advertising controls were needed as well as educating the public about healthy eating.  The changes could see images introduced on food packaging which show the damage caused by obesity, similar to those on cigarette cartons.  Advertising to children, during television programmes such as the X-Factor, must also be restricted, said the recommendations.

Luke Upchurch at Consumers International commented: “We want to avoid a situation like the 1960s, where the tobacco industry were saying there is nothing wrong with cigarettes, they are good for our health, and 30 or 40 years later millions have died.”

He said the new rules would be at the “Highest level” of global agreement, meaning governments would be “legally required” to implement them, instead of being able to opt out, which is the current situation.

Brazil and Norway are said to be on board with the idea of introducing proper controls.

Dr Campbell, clinician and founder of the UK’s National Obesity Forum, pointed out that “we need food to survive; we don’t need tobacco.” He went on to add: “The inescapable fact is obesity is killing on a massive scale and only action from governments to tackle head-on the fundamental causes of obesity will lead to any meaningful decreases.”

Dr Tim Lobstein at the World Obesity Federation said: “If obesity was an infectious disease, we would have seen billions of dollars being invested in bringing it under control.”

But because obesity is largely caused by the overconsumption of fatty and sugary foods, we have seen policy-makers unwilling to take on the corporate interests who promote these foods.”

Terry Jones, director of communications at the Food and Drink Federation, said UK food and drink manufacturers were “already” supporting improvements to public health through many of the measures outlined in the recommendations. Source: BBC News online

TV chefs and politicians line red carpet at annual Curry Oscars

December 7, 2013 | User


Michelle Allbright:

TV chef James Martin rubbed shoulders with David Cameron, whilst Anjum Anand jostled alongside Keith Vaz MP, Ulrika Jonsson and a host of other politicians and celebrities at the British Curry Awards in November 2013.

The annual event, in its ninth year, has become the most glittering of the UK hospitality sector’s calendar.  It is an event now on a scale that founder Enam Ali only dreamed of when he launched the first British Curry Awards in 2005.

Now it commands the attention of the nation, attracting big name TV presenters and personalities, and, crucially, politicians who have slowly come to recognise the importance that Curry plays in contributing to our country’s richly diverse cultural landscape, as well as an estimated staggering £3.5 billion for the government coffers, not to mention the tantalising effect it has on our taste buds that has made all this possible.

But whilst the big names might have been present in the Prime Minister and host for the evening Chris Tarrant – the accolades were all for the stars behind the spicy food served up and down the land enjoyed by the British people every day.

From a huge 236,000 public nominations received this year via app, email and post, the winners were selected from their respective category shortlists and announced at the event.  Winner of the Best Takeaway Award, in association with Just Eat, the online takeaway ordering service, was Polash Tandoori, in Dartford, Kent.  The Special Recognition Award was presented to Mohammed Aslam MBE of Aagrah Group.  For a full list of the winners visit

David Cameron, who at the awards in 2009 coined the name the ‘Curry Oscars’, which has stuck, gave high praise to all those involved.  In particular, the PM extolled the role the industry played in uniting communities. “The British Curry Industry is one of the biggest success stories of integration in any country – ever!” he said.

He further acknowledged the spirit with which it has succeeded: “The curry industry has been contributing, achieving and rising and that is the spirit we need more than ever in this country today.  I wish this Great British industry every possible success in the years to come.”

His words must have been music to the ears of British entrepreneur and restaurateur, Enam Ali MBE, who said, “If anyone had told me back in 2005 that by 2013 our awards dinner would be attended by the Prime Minister and several cabinet and shadow ministers amongst other dignitaries, media and guests, I wouldn’t have believed them.  Here you all are and The British Curry Awards have become an institution.”

When he started the awards Enam Ali wanted to provide a fitting showcase for the cuisine he believed in.

What may have started in the UK in the 60s as curry and chips has evolved with restaurants collecting Michelin stars and ‘curry’ chefs increasingly garnering accolades.

In British supermarkets the presence of ‘World Food’ aisles is indicative of the growing demand for food such as curry in the home, as people seek to experiment with spices made more familiar to them by TV chefs and the rising profile of the British Curry Industry.

The British Curry Industry is one of the biggest success stories of integration in any country – ever!” – Prime Minister David Cameron

Says Enam Ali: “When we started the British Curry Awards in 2005 we were criticised for calling curry ‘British’.  I am happy to take the blame for the changes in perception that have taken place since then because today British curry dishes such as Tikka Masala have an identity all of their own and are known and admired throughout the world.  As Enam says, curry may have been born in India, but it’s in Britain that it has grown and matured.  The British Curry Awards are recognition of that.

Another person one step ahead, like Enam Ali, was Her Majesty The Queen who has sent a message of support for the souvenir programme in each of the years the awards has run.

It seems the rest of the nation is finally catching up with her.


The Best Chefs and Caterers Announced at the BCA Awards 2013 Inspired by Passion, Thriving through Unity

November 5, 2013 | User

November 3rd 2013: the Bangladesh Caterers Association hosted their 8th Annual BCA Awards at one of London’s finest hotels, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel. The night celebrated 53 years of the finest British Bangladeshi Cuisine.

Chief Guest RT Hon Justine Greening MP delivered a very positive, inspiring and supportive speech. Special guests RT Hon Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for local communities and Mohamed Mijarul Quayes Bangladesh High Commissioner also graced the event with their support along with a host of dignitaries, parliamentarians and the curry elite and loyal BCA members.

Guests together joyously applauded 14 Best Restaurants named the BCA Caterer of the Year, 11 optimum chefs named BCA Chef of the Year with this year a Special Chef Award presented to Tipu Rahman for being recognised by the Guinness Book of Records for building the tallest poppadum tower. Also honoured on the night were three outstanding individuals who have contributed and supported the British Curry Industry, Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP amongst the three respected winners.

With a fusion of amazing entertainment, from a duo contortionist act that wowed the audience with their unique and phenomenal act, breathtaking sounds from rising vocal talent, Taal Toronga, a Bangladeshi infused dance group to Sky One’s Got – to Dance Semi Finalist Gaana Raja’s that amazed the audience with their unique Gaana dance style bringing beats from the streets.

The BCA Annual Awards as always provide a fabulous platform to recognise and commend the entrepreneurial talent of the UK’s best Curry Houses who have played an instrumental role in bringing curry to the forefront and tickled the taste buds of the nation leading curry to the pinnacle as one of Britain’s favourite dishes.

Hosted by Bangladesh Caterers Association supporter and renowned presenter Tasmin Lucia Khan together with co-host Kulvinder Ghir, famously known for his role in ‘Goodness Gracious Me’, the talented duo bought the event alive and welcomed 1000 guests to what was a spectacular evening.

Mr Pasha Khandaker, the President of the BCA expressed at last night’s ceremony: “It has been overwhelming to see the support our industry is receiving from so many Parliamentarians, Sponsors and of course our members, making me feel immensely proud to be the leader of this organisation. Together in unity everything is possible, we will keep working hard to create solutions to keep our industry alive and thriving”

The event emphasised the importance of keeping the Bangladesh Heritage and culture alive for generations to come. Another young and talented Chef, Shahena Ali who has modernised the authentic Bangladeshi taste, graced the Awards Ceremony by delivering a few motivating words for next generation chefs and also paving the way for more Bangladeshi women to join the heritage founded by their ancestors. She spoke about the future of the Bangladeshi Cuisine and the significance of getting young and talented people to go forth and represent this industry in order to secure its survival and allow it to flourish and prosper in its years to come.

Together in unity everything is possible, we will keep working hard to create solutions to keep our industry alive and thriving” – President of the BCA

The night enticed taste buds and warmed souls through a fusion of traditional and contemporary entertainment. It allowed us to really celebrate the UK’s leading Curry Industry’s entrepreneurs as they have successfully immigrated and integrated into Britain’s culture yet maintaining their heritage and roots through their fantastic cuisine.

A special raffle enabled the BCA to raise funds of £2,600 for the Rona Plaza victims and their rehabilitation; it gave the BCA great pleasure to be able to provide some form of solace for such a tragic disaster in their home nation.

A special thank you to our sponsors who have displayed their commitment and support to the BCA; Cobra Beer, Square Mile Insurance, Bartercard, Kansara’s, Bangladesh Biman Airlines, Canary Wharf Club, Chivas Regal, Community Skills Development Agency, Ellwood Foods, N Power, Metro Bank, Madhus.

BCA Chef of the Year Award 2013 Winners
Kamrul Islam of Blue Chutney in Wickford, Essex
Abdullah Mokul of Shafiques in Worthing, Sussex
Abul Monsur of Taj Cuisine in Chatham, Kent
Asharaful Choudhury of Aroma of Bengal in Trowbridge, Wiltshire
Mohammed Salik Ahmed of The Taste of India in Loughborough, Leicestershire
Liyakat Ali Khan of Rose Indienne in Swansea
Sundar Ali of Rishi Restaurant in Norwich
Raju Miah of Gatley Tandoori and Restaurant in Gatley Cheadle, Cheshire
Muslim Miah of Royal Tandoori Restaurant, Whyteleafe, Surrey
Syed Moin Uddin of Kingsthorpe Spice in Kingsthorpe, Northampton
Alfas Miah of Guru Tandoori in Finchley Central, London
Tipu Rahman, Special Award for being included in the Guinness Book of World Records
BCA Honour Award 2013 Winners
Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP in East Ham, for his outstanding contribution and support to the British Curry Industry
Bazlur Rahman Chowdhury, for his lifetime contribution to the British Curry Industry and British Bangladeshi Community
G N Chowdhury Humayun, for his lifetime contribution to the British Curry Industry and British Bangladeshi Community
BCA Caterer of the Year 2013 Winners
Doros Ahmed of Ruchi Restaurant in West Hampstead, London, London Region 1
M Ali Akbar of Neel Akash Restaurant in Ware, Hertfordshire, London Region 2
Jubair Zaman of Curry Inn 84 in Cranleigh, Surrey, South East Region 4 (Surrey)
Iqbal Miah of The Shalimar Restaurant in Waterlooville, Hampshire, South East Region 6
Asjad Choudhury (Siyam) of Raj Pavilion in Turnridge Wells, Kent, South East Region 7 (Kent)
Dudon Ali of Shakil’s in Bicester, Oxon, South East Region 8
Syed Mohammed Foysol of Bayleaf Lounge in Macclesfield, Manchester, The North West Region
Kazi Wahiduz Zaman of Cinnamon Lounge in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, East of England Region 1 (Herts & Beds)
Shahab Uddin of Rasal in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, East of England Region 1 (Herts & Beds)
Miftaur Rahman Choudhury of Lalbagh in Cambridge, East of England Region 3 (Suffolk, Norfolk)
Robby Malique of The Melford Valley in Long Melford, Suffolk, East of England Region 3 (Suffolk, Norfolk)
Rokib Ali of The Biplop in Swindon, Wiltshire, South West Region 1 (Swindon)
Ahmed Ali of Masala in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Wales Region
Abdul Matin Shahid of Mahmaan in Oakwood Derby, East Midlands Region

Can insects solve our food crisis?

November 29, 2012 | admin

Spice World

Munching meal worms and scoffing scorpions is all part of the game for celebrities down under in ITV1’s annual series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! During their jungle stint celebrities take part in Bush Tucker trials which allow the contestants to gain food and treats for camp. The most notorious of these are the ‘food’ trials. The foods eaten can include: crickets and cockroaches (either cooked into biscuits, blended into drinks or eaten dead or alive), green ants, mealworms, witchetty grub, roasted spider or tarantulas, and kangaroo testicles or anus.

But whilst these seem more ‘trick’ than ‘treat’ to our delicate western palates, for some parts of the world these are valued sources of food.

Witchetty grubs: whilst most of us would wretch at a witchetty grub, for Indigenous Australians they form a staple part of their diet. The large, white, wood-eating larvae of moths are eaten raw or lightly cooked in hot ashes and are sought out as a high-protein food. The raw witchetty grub is said to taste like almonds and when cooked the skin crisps up like roast chicken while the inside becomes light yellow, comparable to a fried egg.

Mealworms: these are the larval form of the mealworm beetle, usually eaten by reptiles, fish and wild birds. Mealworms are high in protein, and are a food source scientists are studying as a potential solution to the world’s future food shortage.

Fried spider is a regional delicacy in Cambodia where they are vended as a popular attraction for tourists. They are described as bland, “a cross between chicken and cod”.

There are serious concerns about the food shortages we face in an increasingly over-populated world. In 2008 the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) held a meeting on the theme in Thailand in which insects were discussed as a potential food source. A world congress on the issue was scheduled for 2013.

Professor Arnold van Huis, an entomologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and author of the UN paper, puts forward the case for eating insects. He says that bugs have high nutritional value, carry less health risk to humans and require less land and feed to farm. This makes them cheaper to farm and produces far less greenhouse gases than current livestock.

“Psychologically we have a problem with it. I don’t know why, as we eat shrimps, which are very comparable.”

Two-thirds of the world’s farmland is given to raising livestock such as cows, pigs and sheep and directly causes 20 per cent of all the greenhouse emissions behind global warming. Van Huis warns of a population rise to nine billion by 2050 – one which will be consuming way more meat – 80kg in 20 years compared to 20kg just twenty years ago, which means the problem is only going to get worse. (Guardian August 2010)

More than 1,000 insects are known to be eaten around the world in 80 per cent of nations. “Most of the world already eats insects,” he points out. “It is only in the western world that we don’t. Psychologically we have a problem with it. I don’t know why, as we eat shrimps, which are very comparable.”

The story behind … Christmas Candy Canes

November 29, 2012 | admin

Candy canes: side-kick to teddy bears in Christmas stockings and sugar-rich enemy of children’s teeth everywhere, but where do these crook-shaped confectionery come from? Read More

Water: a simple cure

September 24, 2012 | admin

Michelle Allbright


When you consider that the average Briton drinks just 200ml of water a day, which is less than one glass out of the six to eight glasses of fluid (equal to 1.2 litres) that the Food Standards Agency recommends,

Read More