Welsh curry competition shows the country is in hot form
If you’re looking for somewhere new for a curry adventure head to Wales – the annual Welsh Curry House of the Year competition shows there is plenty of rivalry and standards are high as restaurants vie for the crown.
This year was no different with a dead heat in North Wales showing that competition is tight.
The contest is now in its ninth year with voting numbers rising – this year nearly 18,000 people across Wales chose their favourite curry house and in April award organisers Welsh Curry announced the TOP 30. They said: “There was a significant change in the Mid & West Region – we received a record number of votes. It clearly demonstrated that the up rise of curry in the rural heartland areas of Wales has gained further momentum”.
The process of judging the Curry Chef competition was given a new twist for 2015. Chefs from the TOP 30 restaurants were invited to compete at catering colleges up and down the country, with regional heats held at Port Talbot/Neath, Newtown and Colwyn Bay. The ‘Curry Wars’ were filmed live for the BBC and televised in September. You can see the chefs do battle under the watchful eyes of judges Nerys Howell, Chef Raj and Chef Anand George at www.welshcurry.co.uk/bbc-one-wales-curry-wars.
Independent regional judges visited the 30 restaurants as “mystery diners” to judge them on extensive criteria detailed on a scorecard. This year a dead-heat in North Wales between Maahis in Wrexham and the eventual overall Welsh winners Abul’s Spice proved especially challenging to call. But whilst the regional draw stood, it was Abul’s Welsh Lamb dish that stood out to earn the business the title of Welsh Curry House of the Year 2015.
“The judges were impressed with the way Abul’s Spice prepared and cooked their Welsh Lamb dish. The whole lamb was presented then carved offering a unique opportunity to combine the sweet taste of the lamb with authentic Indian spices” said Niaz Taj, the competition’s producer.
“The judges were confident that any discerning curry lover would enjoy visiting Abul’s Spice in Corwen and would be marking time before they made a return visit.”
Chef Pramod Nair from Chaiholics in Cardiff won the title of Welsh Curry Chef of the Year 2015 after winning regional heats and a final cook-off against curry chefs from all over Wales.
“We are delighted to have chosen Chef Pramod Nair as the winner of The Welsh Curry Chef of the Year 2015 – the people of Wales are blessed with outstanding talent in the Curry Industry but of course we must strive for more. It’s important that the Curry Industry gives time to creating home-grown talent without losing the essence of the Indian Sub-Continent – it was a tough challenge for all our curry chefs this year with Regional & a Final cook off in catering colleges all over Wales” said Chair Nerys Howells of Howel Food Consultancy.
The judges were also reminded about the impact a successful restaurant can have as part of the wider economy and the surrounding rural community. “It felt like the whole community of Cowen were stakeholders in the restaurant including the local farmer, fellow businesses and very happy diners” added the producer.
“We have over 400 Indian restaurants in Wales and to make the final three is a huge achievement. We received nearly 18,000 votes this year confirming that the people of Wales continue to be passionate about Indian cuisine and have a huge affection for their local Indian restaurant.”
The winner was announced by TV Weathergirl Sian Lloyd at a glittering awards show at Venue Cymru in Llandudno in June.
“I do love a good curry. I was delighted to host an event where it’s the Welsh public whose votes starts the process of finding the best curry house in Wales each year. This was my first year as a National Judge and it was an amazing experience with a three day Curry Road Trip. The competition illustrates the strength of our love as a nation for Curry” said Sian Lloyd.