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SPICE TIMES AWARDS SPECIAL A few words from the editor

SPICE TIMES Spice Times Publishing 131-133 Victoria Avenue Southend-on-Sea Essex SS2 5EX 0844 800 9871 EDITOR IN CHIEF Moinul Hussain ART DIRECTOR Jayson Valand CO-DESIGNERS / WRITERS Carl Doherty Matthew Webb PHOTOGRAPHY Juvel Hussain Profile Photography MEDIA Carl Doherty CONTRIBUTIONS Umesh Regmi Keith Best SPECIAL THANKS Tasmin Lucia Kahn Tanya Choudhury Abdul Haque Alexa Kaul


elcome to the Spice Times Winter 2011 issue.

This special edition issue is dedicated to the inaugural Spice Times Restaurant Awards, which ran through November last year. The 2010 Restaurant Awards marked a giant step forward for the magazine, and was the first of its kind, allowing the British public to vote for their favourite South Asian restaurant via our website, or offline voting forms that were distributed to restaurants. While this was our first awards ceremony, the reception we received from restaurant owners and the curry loving public was outstanding. Spice Times has received significant praise for finally organising an award ceremony that lets the public decide the nation’s best. The results were announced at our gala dinner event, held on December 12 th. The event marked not so much a new direction for Spice Times as the culmination of what we set out to do when the magazine began several years ago. Flip to page 12 for our extensive feature on the night, with photos of the guests and dignitaries, hosts Tasmin Lucia Khan and Syed Ahmed, and the evening’s entertainment, courtesy of Flex FX and world’s leading Michael Jackson tribute band Signature. We also look at each of the 11 regional winners and national winner The Last Days of the Raj. The response to the awards was astounding, not only from the 300,000 people who voted but the industrious restaurateurs who promoted the awards through websites, social network pages and in-restaurant promotions. The event received television coverage from 9 channels, including B4U, NDTV Imagine, Music India, ATN Bangla, Venus, Channel i, Nepali TV and NTV. Each each winning restaurant also enjoyed extremely positive local media coverage. Such attention perfectly reflected the original purpose of both the Spice Times Awards and the magazine itself; to celebrate and promote the Asian Restaurant industry. Plans are already

Cover Image

Spice Times Restaurant Awards host Tasmin Lucia Khan (feature begins on pg 15)

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underway for an even bigger and more impressive Spice Times Restaurant Awards 2011, and we invite all of our readers to get involved, either as a participant or a voter. Restaurant owners will soon be able to register their establishment on our website,, so please visit us online and follow us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed to be updated. With the awards feature taking precedence this time round, some of our regular features have been pushed aside until next issue, but we’ve still got more than enough to interest you, including a piece on Mumbai’s Tiffin workers, an interview with The Three Sisters Cookbook’s Alexa Kaul, an insightful look at the Bangladeshi catering industry from former MP Keith Best and the usual news and food features that our readers know and love.

Moinul Hussain Editor in Cheif

Spice Times is published quaterly. We accept no responsibility for any information or printing errors. No part of this publication can be reproduced in any way, shape or form without written permission from the executive board of directors. Spice Times is a registered trademark and copyright 2007 Spice Times Publishing. For editorial enquiries and to submit press releases please email For any information regarding this publication please visit our website or to advertise please call 0844 800 9871 during office hours.


n s e k














06 News

15 Spice Times Restaurant Awards 2010

39 Lancers’ Shahjahani Murgh

100mph fast food, Glasgow voted curry capital and Spice Times at the GG2 Awards

12 South Asia and the World The 41st International Film Festival of India, an the Cricket World Cup in South Asia

34 Restaurant Focus A closer look at the winning restaurants of the Spice Times Restaurant Awards 2010

48 Opinion: Keith Best on the South Asian Catering Industry The former MP discusses the future of the Bangladeshi catering industry in Britain

Photos of the awards winners at the Spice Times Restaurant Awards 2010 gala dinner

38 Three Sisters Interview We cought up with Alexa Kaul of cooking phenomenon The Three Sisters

45 Feeding the Nation A spotlight on the life of Mumbai’s tiffin workers

53 2010: A Year in Review

A recipe from Abdul haque, Head Chef at Lancers Brasserie

42 Vegetarian Substitutes Ideas for replacing your meat with veg

45 The onion Bhajji A quick recipe for the classic side dish

47 Sugar & Spice We look at the unlikely confectionary that is chilli chocolate

A brief overview of last year’s highs and lows

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GLASGOW WINS CURRY CAPITAL OF THE YEAR AWARD Glasgow has won the Curry Capital of Britain 2010 award, with Bradford coming second out of the 12 hopefuls. Nominees, including Wolverhampton, were praised for producing a “tremendous” bid. Each city taking part urged the public to vote for which group of restaurants would form the bid team that was presented to the judges. Kim Gilmour, City Centre Company Manager for Wolverhampton, said: “The teamwork paid off and we are delighted to have come third in our very first attempt. I would like to thank everyone who supported our bid in any way. “It is a great achievement, and we are determined to build on this for next year and hopefully see Wolverhampton named Curry Capital of Britain. We hope the campaign has encouraged visitors and residents to eat out in the city’s fine Indian restaurants.” Sam Hussain, owner of Café Rickshaw, added that “It was thoroughly enjoyable to be part of the Wolverhampton’s bid team. What started out as a bit of fun turned in to a real business opportunity to raise the profile of Indian cuisine and eating out generally in our city. “We look forward to further opportunities to work together promoting eating out in Wolverhampton and are already gearing up for the competition next year.”

Photo: Johnny Durnan

Experts estimated that if Birmingham had won the bid, the city would see a tourism boost of up to £1.5 million. The Curry Capital of Britain title has been reintroduced for the first time since 2005 as part of the 13th National Curry Week. Twelve cities fought for the prestigious title. The previous holder of the title was Leicester.

A team of 13 judges put the restaurants through their paces, scoring them on the standard of their food and service, their hygiene and cleanliness and how they serve their communities. All restaurants involved have also been invited to hold a special charity dinner for The Curry Tree Charitable Fund.

CLASSIC DISHES GIVEN INDIAN TWIST Fans of curry will be salivating at the idea of an Indian take on such classic British dishes as Yorkshire Pudding and Lancashire Hotpot. During National Curry Week in November Cobra Beer conducted a poll of the country’s top favourite dishes. Cobra polled 2000 adults to find out the nation’s favourite dish. The top 10 foods in the poll were given an Indian twist. The chosen dishes were made available throughout the country at participating restaurants.

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100MPH FAST FOOD A restaurant in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, is using a Lamborghini Gallardo to deliver takeaways. The restaurant, Alberto’s, celebrated its 12th anniversary by launching a new takeaway service. Owner Alberto paid £700 to hire the supercar.

“There are lots of Indian and Chinese restaurants who do takeaway services but not many Italians, so we thought it would be a good idea,” said Alberto. “We wanted to do something special to mark the start and my son Orlando suggested we get hold of a Lamborghini Gallardo.”


CURRY FAVOURED OVER ROAST A survey has discovered that the increasingly popular curry is a more favoured dish than the traditional British Sunday staple, the humble roast dinner. Participants were asked which they preferred to have out of either a roast dinner or an Indian takeaway, with 64% preferring the latter. The research was conducted by online takeaway ordering website Hungry House. It showed that only 16% of the people surveyed gathered their families to sit down and enjoy a roast dinner. This is in stark contrast to the number of Brits who eat curry. More than 1 in 5 asked have a regular curry night, be it with friends or family. Britons also prefer ethnic food as a whole, with 36% regularly ordering from a Chinese restaurant, as opposed to a mere 12% who

enjoy the traditional British fish and chips. The poll asked 1,218 people across the UK aged 18-35. Interestingly, 42% of those asked had never cooked a Sunday roast themselves. Graeme Horne, marketing manager at Hungry House said: “In the past, you’d be hard pushed to find a family who didn’t sit down together every Sunday for a roast dinner, but things have changed drastically. We’re now in a time when most people, especially the younger generation, prefer a takeaway to home-cooked food. “It could be put down to how effortless ordering a takeaway is, especially with sites like ours, but more than that I think people find takeaway a more sociable meal than roast dinner. Takeaway certainly means less washing up - and who wouldn’t want that!”

CHOR BIZARRE FOOD FESTIVAL The Chor Bizarre held its inaugural South Indian Food Festival in November 2010, featuring nearly every kind of food the region has to offer. The event took place at the restaurant in Mayfair, between the 10th to 30th November 2010, and diners were made to feel like they were walking into a traditional Indian restaurant in the country itself, due to the authentic décor. The aesthetics of the restaurant reflect that of the original Chor Bazaar in Mumbai. The menu included Kerala Avial of winter vegetables, appams with chicken stew, Hyderabadi Mirchi, beans and mushroom ka salan, Goa’s ‘finger licking’ coconut and coriander-crusted prawns, Tamil Nadu’s renowned Chettinad lamb chops, Karnataka’s sea bass Nilgiri and Mysore masala dosa.

WASTEFUL BRITAIN Wasteful Britons are throwing away up to £46 million of uneaten Christmas food every year. Sprouts, the famously hated vegetable, were the most thrown away leftovers with 45% of the vote. That’s a lot of Xmas desserts that will go uneaten...

BOLLY-FLEX MAKE SHORTLIST Following a standing ovation on Sky 1’s Got to Dance, Bolly-Flex have beaten thousands of hopefuls to reach the show’s shortlist. The London-based dance group, comprised of 12 dancers from Flex FX Productions and led by choreographer Naz Choudhury, was applauded by the judges and have been declared contenders for the £250,000 prize money. Flex FX recently danced for guests at the first Spice Times Restaurant Awards (see pg 22 for photos) and are asking Spice Times readers to help them succeed supporting them online at

Turkey came second with 41%, Ham was third with 38%, and potatoes and Christmas pudding came fourth and fifth respectively.

SCOTCH EGG RICE SURPRISE The Menu Innovation Network has found the winner of their USA Rice competition. Peter Joyner, Food Development Director at Elior UK, won with his Scotch Egg Risotto Cake using American rice. The winning recipe will be featured as a starter at Eversheds restaurant in London, and Mr Joyner has also won a trip to the National Restaurant Show in Chicago in 2011.

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HOT TUB IN AID OF CHILDREN IN NEED Bathing in baked beans has become a staple of fundraising events, but when Chef Alim Uddin decided to raise money for Children in Need he gave the bathtub a South Eastern flavour. Uddin, the owner of the Spice Cottage, Diss, held the fundraiser outside his restaurant, where locals and passers-by were encouraged to make donations for the BBC’s annual appeal. The November weather was apparently so cold that Mr. Uddin had to fill his tub with an especially spicy vindaloo curry. The event, held on Wednesday November 17, raised £206.34 in just 40 minutes for the charity, which aims to improve the lives of disadvantaged youngsters throughout the United Kingdom.

DELICIOUS DELHI DISHES Brand Innovations has released a new range of Indian snacks called DelhiBITES. DelhiBITES includes a wide range of items, including onion bhajis and samosas. The Cocktail 100-Piece Selection Pack is the main package, and features 25 of each snack. The pack is perfect for a restaurant looking to serve a grand starter to couples this Valentine’s day. DelhiBITES has ensured that their products are of the highest quality. All the ingredients are locally grown and the products are pre-fried to give the best possible dining experience.They can be cooked on demand as they are frozen.

Last year’s Children in Need incentive raised a record £39 million. “Children in Need do superb work to help families. We are a family run restaurant and a big fan of the charity, so we wanted to do something fun to support them,” said Emdad Hussain, manager at the Spice Cottage, a Grade II listed Indian and Nepalese restaurant. “We would like to say a big thank you to all the Diss people who generously supported the fundraiser, and we will be keeping a donations bucket in the restaurant for the next week if people want to add donations.” Mr Hussain continued.

SRA LENDS RESTAURATEURS A HELPING HAND The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) is lending a helping hand to businesses that are struggling to balance their books in these troubled economic times. The SRA has constructed a tool kit with underperforming restaurants in mind. The kit helps restaurateurs add an extra layer of stability into their businesses. The tool kit is £250 and covers a wide range of issues that can be used to improve a business, and includes advice on such topics as sustainability, society, environment and sourcing. Not only is the package incredibly easy to use, but it also includes five hours support from an SRA account manager. The manager provides all kinds of advice including but not limited to energy efficiency and recycling.The package also contains the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers’ guide ‘Energy Efficiency in Commercial Kitchens,’ which is worth £60 separately and owners of restaurants can make up to £200 back through savings in their first year of SRA membership. Simon Heppner, SRA managing director said: “Incorporating sustainability from scratch makes perfect business sense and the SRA toolkit is designed to help restaurants save money and meet customer demand. For example, two thirds of customers told the SRA in a recent Populus poll that they wanted restaurants to

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serve more local food and 87 per cent want to see sustainable seafood on the menu.” Francesco Mazzei, chef patron at L’Anima said “It’s unrealistic to expect restaurateurs to have detailed knowledge of all aspects of sustainability. So it makes perfect sense when starting a quality new restaurant to take advantage of the SRA’s expertise, just as we would consult a respected interior designer when planning the look of our restaurant. The toolkit looks likely be a great asset.”


RED RIBBON OPENING FOR GATESHEAD RESTAURANT A new Indian restaurant has opened in Swalwell, Gateshead. The Mayor of Gateshead, Cllr Michael Flood, was the person to cut the red ribbon at Jashn Indian Celebration. Cllr Flood said: “I would like to extend a very warm welcome to Jashn and, from what I have heard and what I have experienced tonight, I have every confidence they will be very successful. I will definitely be coming back.” Jashn Indian Celebration restaurant hosted an exciting launch event which was attended by many major local figures, including North East England Tourism Advisory Board chairman Geoff Hodgson and representatives from Blaydon Rugby Club. The restaurant has been open for business since last year but has only now received its official grand opening. A grand feast was put on by the restaurant’s chefs, including a wide array of the finest curries and canapés. All the recipes originated from a small village in Bangladesh, and after dinner the chefs talked to guests about the food and how it was prepared with healthy techniques, such as using minimal oil. Jasha is the second restaurant owned by Jay Alam and his wife Sapna. They also own the award-winning Turmeric Gold in Coventry.

SPICE TIMES AT THE GG2 LEADERSHIP AND DIVERSITY AWARDS 2010 Spice Times Magazine editor Moinul Hussain recently represented the publication at the GG2 Leadership and Diversity Awards 2010. The Leadership and Diversity Awards were launched in 1999. The awards promote the achievements of individuals from an ethnic background. The event’s highest accolade, the GG2 Hammer Award, was given to Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, who is the first ever female Muslim Cabinet Minister in the UK.

Left: Spice Times editor in chief Moinul Hussain (right) pictured with Kingfisher CEO Vijay Mallya (left).

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Spice Times visit the parties that winners of the Spice Times 2010 Restaurant Awards are hosting to celebrate their accolades.


he response to the Spice Times Restaurant Awards 2010 has been overwhelming to say the least. Up and down the country, parties have been thrown in honour of the awards. Winners of the prestigious accolades have opened their doors to celebrate with their regulars and local government officials, along with a few local celebrities, offering lavish parties and serving up their award-winning dishes. Panahar in South Croydon won a Best Local Restaurant Award and owners Mr Syed Shelim Ali, Mr Shahan Miah (Sam) and Mothiur Rahman (Jalal) decided to combine its 11th birthday with celebration to mark the winning of the award. The restaurant held a glittering party at their premises, at which 300 people attended. Guests included the Mayor of Croydon plus a number of former Mayors: Councillor Tim Pollard (Sanderstead Ward), Councillor Yvette Hopley (Sanderstead Ward), and Crystal Palace and England footballer John Salako. Regular customers who voted for Panahar also turned up to offer yet more support. Croydon Mayor Avril Slipper commented on the event, saying: “I am Proud of Panahar for working hard to receive this award and the customers really wanted them to have it. They worked hard for it.” Merchant Spice also held their own special evening at Sheraz Restaurant, situated in curry capital Brick Lane, East London. A huge number of dignitaries were invited to celebrate with them and enjoy a meal. The four brothers had even more reason to reward their hard work as their other restaurant, Balti Nights won Best Takeaway Restaurant. Azad gave a heart warming speech and thanked his older brother for supporting the family and understanding business, and said that their success was due mostly to him.

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Former directors and chairmen of highly recognised catering organisations were at the event along with guests of honour Lutfur Rahman, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, and his deputy Ohid Ahmed, as well as former Chairman of the BCA Miah Monirul Alam. Top left: Footballer John Salako joins guests at Panahar, South Croydon. Top right: Pahar owners Mr Syed Shelim Ali, Mr Shahan Miah and Mothiur Rahman, joined by the Mayor of Croydon and Spice Times editor Moinul Hussain. Above: Merchant Spice’s Mr Azid Miah, Mr Touris Miah, Mr Azad Miah and Mr Akik Miah celebrate their award.


SOUTH ASIA AND THE WORLD 41st International Film Festival of India The 41st International Film Festival of India took place between 22nd November and 2nd December 2010, in an event where local Indian films shone through among a meagre world cinema selection. International film maker’s not native to India also made an appearance, including Woody Allen with his film ‘You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger’, which features Slumdog Millionaire star Freida Pinto. The film follows a number of couples and studies a turbulent time in each of their relationships. It also stars Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins as an elderly gentleman who consumes a vast amount of iron in an attempt to keep his youth. Director Roman Polanski also showcased his upcoming film, The Ghost Writer, starring Pierce Brosnan of James Bond fame. One of the most interesting films of the event was Ami Aadu (Sound of Love) which is Bengali filmmaker Somnath Gupta’s first feature. Sound of Love follows a man as he looks for work in Iraq and eventually becomes affected by Operation Iraqi Freedom.

‘The Robot’ is Global Success India’s most expensive movie ever made, Enthiran (The Robot), has proven a Box Office hit with audiences in Asia and beyond. The film opened in 2,253 screens worldwide, including 30 cinemas in the United Kingdom. Enthiran stars Rajinikanth as a Frankenstein-inspired scientist who creates a robot named Chitti (built in his image), only to see it multiply into a million clones, destroy Chennai and steal his fiancée, played by Aishwarya Rai. Costing a whopping 162 crore ($36.45mil) to produce, Enthiran is yet another success for 61 year-old star Rajinikanth, currently India’s highest paid actor. It has also proven a hit with Asian film critics, who have lauded the movie’s witty dialogue, zany characters and inventive dance sequences. Enthiran marks the latest attempt to lend Indian cinema a global appeal. The film’s large-scale special effects were handled by Hollywood’s Stan Winston Studios and Industrial Light & Magic, while the action scenes were stages by renowned choreographer Yuen Woo-ping, who was responsible for the balletic brawls of The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

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Cricket World Cup Comes to South Asia Once again it’s time for the jewel in the cricket calendar, the ICC Cricket World Cup, sponsored by Pepsi. The event is heading back to South Asia with India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh each co-hosting the event. Each nation will be out to steal the crown from historically the tournaments best team, Australia, who have won it four times and are the current holders since winning in 2007. The World Cup will commence with the first one day international match between Bangladesh and India in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, on Saturday 19th February. The team to beat will of course have to be England, who have dominated the recent Ashes series and are the current Twenty20 Cricket World Cup champions. India and South Africa will also be a tough opponent for anyone facing the two sides. Pakistan will of course be tough competitors. England Captain, Andrew Strauss said: “We’ve always got to be thinking about how we can improve and get better and hopefully one or two guys will be sticking their hands up and saying ‘I can add something to this team as well’. “While I’m captain of the England side, you’re not doing your job if you’re not looking ahead to what’s coming up and trying to keep the guys improving and going forward. “People will now have high expectations of us, and we’re going to have to work very hard to live up to them. But we’re as confident as I’ve ever seen in an England team.”

Indian Fruit and Vegetable Prices Continue to Rise Indian fruit and vegetable prices have continued to rise, and have hit their highest level for more than a year. Prices are increasing at a rate of 18 percent a year. This indicates that the impact of the high surge in the price of these commodities is widely affecting the economy. This is not a local issue either, as it highlights fears that food prices are rising or going to rise exponentially in the developing world. The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation warned that global food prices have exceeded the extraordinary levels that existed during the 2007-08. Ali Mohammad, a trader in Mumbai, said: “People have to buy the same number of onions; it’s a staple, so that is why I haven’t seen any change in sales. But what I have seen is that rather than buying 1kg at a time as before, they will buy less, but more often so it is manageable.” Increased commodity prices are affecting businesses and ordinary people alike. Fruit, which is seen as a healthy snack, has become a luxury for families who are not able to afford the high costs. Vegetables are also suffering the same fate as fruit; even the humble potato curry has raised in price. Bihari Lal, a 40 year-old fruit trader, said: “Buying fruit is a luxury for most people. They would rather spend the money on vegetables for an evening meal than for buying bananas, papayas, oranges and melons. For the poor it is unthinkable. So I am buying less fruit to sell to avoid wastage, but I am going through a bad time.” The prices have been rising since late last year, when the cost of a kilogram of onions rose to £1.14 due to an extreme shortage of the staple food; which was in turn due to the heavy late monsoon rains in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan states. Because of this, ministers in the Indian government have banned the export of onions to the Gulf states, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka until January 15.

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The 2010 Spice Times Awards came to a triumphant and extravagant culmination at the Spice Times Restaurant Awards Gala Dinner


he Gala Dinner took place at the opulent City Pavilion, Romford, which buzzed with energy as the winners, dignitaries and celebrities entered the Millennium Suite. Guests included his Excellency Dr. Mohammed Sayeedur Rahman Khan; Bangladeshi high commissioner to the UK, Rt. Hon Rushanara Ali, Shadow Education Rt. Hon. Sharon Hodgson and Deputy Mayor of Havering Cllr Melvin Wallace. As the guests entered the event, they were welcomed with an extravagant champagne reception while they mingled, discussed business and enjoyed delicious canapés. All of the guest speakers complimented the organisers for putting together a spectacular event and supporting an industry which is one of the biggest in the UK. Sharon Hodgson said “Curry is now the number one dish in the UK. I like Mexican food but I haven’t ever been to a Mexican awards ceremony. I have been to two curry awards this year”.

Daybreak’s Tasmin Lucia Khan and Syed Ahmed, of The Apprentice fame, hosted the event. The pair conducted the event expertly, and made sure the event ran smoothly. Time even allowed for each winner to give words of thank you and joy for winning their awards. In between each part of the awards, awardwinning entertainment was on display in the form of dancing from the energetic and Flex FX, who performed a wildly varied act which ranged from traditional Bollywood dancing to swing and contemporary street dance. Flex FX are also the stars of Sky 1’s dance show Got To Dance. The star entertainment of the evening was the world famous Michael Jackson dance group, Signature, who wowed the crowd with a thrilling performance which revisited the late singer’s back catalogue. The dancers showed off the act that earned them acclaim on Britain’s Got

Talent, as well as a number of unique routines that got the front tables up and dancing. Spice Times Chairman Moinul Hussain said: “It was a fantastic event and a great evening, the feedback that we’ve received from the public is superb. I’ve spoken to numerous restaurant owners and they are now referring to the Spice Times Restaurant Awards as the number one South Asian catering awards in the UK.” “I think we can all agree that it was a success,” agreed Shelim Rashid of online restaurant directory Curries Online, “they will only get bigger and better from now on.” Pepsi’s Senior UK Sales Director Matt Greenslade praised Mr Hussain for “delivering a great event,” and pledged Pepsi’s continuing support for the annual awards. Kingfisher CEO Damon Swarbrick called the event “a great success,” and was “amazed” by the turnout of dignitaries and restaurateurs.

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The Spice Times Restaurant Awards 2010 are the first and only awards of their kind, as they are voted for solely by the patrons of restaurants themselves and reflect the opinions and true thoughts of the nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s curry loving public. The awards are split into four categories, including Best Takeaway, Best Local Restaurant, Best Regional Restaurant and the prestigious Best National Restaurant Award. Not only were the food lovers at the centre of proceedings, the awards were an innovative hybrid of online and offline voting. Through the Spice Times website, the public were able to click by region on a map of the country and choose their favourite restaurant local to them, in their region and in the whole nation. The many restaurants that took part surprised us here at Spice Times by using some industrious and unique ways of getting votes from their customers. Takeaways made their own version of the offline printed vote form and sent them out with deliveries whilst some restaurants used made another form that allowed them to get detailed customer feedback, which proves that the awards also helped improve local business.

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Hosts Tasmin Lucia Khan and Syed Ahmed, alongside Spice Times Chairman Moinul Hussain.

Tasmin Lucia Khan

Syed Ahmed

Rt. Hon. Rushanara Ali MP

Sharon Hodgson MP

Dr. Mohammad Sayeedur Rahman Khan

Ann Holland Mayor of Southend-on-Sea

Special Guest and Guest Speakers Tasmin Lucia Khan (Host) Tasmin Lucia Khan is a British journalist and news presenter for ITV breakfast show Daybreak. She also presents a news bulletin for the morning show Lorraine on ITV.Tasmin was formerly the face of BBC Threeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hourly 60 Seconds, and presented E24 on the rolling news channel BBC News. She joined Daybreak in September 2010, delivering news bulletins and breaking stories.

Syed Ahmed (Host) Syed, who is also hosting the event, was a staple of the 2006 series of The Apprentice, in which his outgoing personality stood out from the other contestants. Mr. Ahmed has since appeared on various other reality television shows.

Rt. Hon. Rushanara Ali MP Rushanara Ali is the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, and is also the Associate Director of the Young Foundation. Along with Language Line, Rushanara Ali is well known for her support among the bangladeshi community.

His Excellency Dr. Mohammad Sayeedur Rahman Khan Dr. Khan is the Bangladeshi High Commissioner to the UK, and is committed to strengthening Bangladeshâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bilateral relationship with the UK.

Sharon Hodgson MP Sharon is the MP for Washington and Sunderland West and was appointed in the Shadow cabinet as Shadow Children and Families Minister in October 2010. She is a keen advocate of the restaurant trade and has spoken at other top industry events.

Ann Holland Mayor of Southend-on-sea Mayor Ann Holland has been a member of the Southend council since 1996. Ann became the Mayor of Southend in May 2010 and has been seen at a number of large events such as the Southend military parade and the opening of the new Southend swim centre. She spoke warmly and proudly of the awards, saying that she was happy that there were winners from the Southend area and that the Spice Times Restaurant Awards originated in Southend-on-Sea.

Mrs Hodgson has served on select committees ever since her first election as an MP for Gateshead East and Washington West, including the North East Regional Committee and the Children, Schools and Families Committee. Other high profile positions include working as a Parliamentary Private Secretary for a range of different ministers in a number of departments such as the Home Office, Ministry of Defence and the Department of Health. Spice times 17

Guests arrive at Champagne reception

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Guests arrive at Champagne reception

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Mr. Azad Ali Merchant Spice Braintree, Essex

Mr. Taid Ullah Alishan Tonbridge, Kent

Mr. Dulon Miah The Mogul Restaurant Saffron Walden, Essex

Mr.Yusuf Khan Leigh Tandoori Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

Mr. Askor Ali Mahaan Restaurant Worthing, West Sussex

Mr. Sulaman Ahmed Bekash Tandoori Romford, Essex

Mr. Nurun Nabi Kosturi Hayes, Kent

Mr. Joynal Abdin Indigo Restaurant Stockport

Mr. Jamal Ullah Agra Palace Warwickshire

Mr. Ashraf Talukder Tarana Restaurant West Sussex

Mr. Lipon Choudhury Blue Tiffin Oldham, Lancashire

Mr. Mutahear Chowdhury Chand Indian Cuisine Nottinghamshire

Mr. Ali Amjod Joy Balti Wiltshire

Mr. Enamul Haque Spice Fusion Rainham, Kent

Mr. Syed Shelim Hayder Ali Panahar South Croydon, London

Mr. Taraque Uddin Café Masala Bedfordshire

Mr. Rais Miah Balti Bazaar Stourbridge, West Midlands

Mr. Eafor Ali / Mr. Abdul Mumain Quality Tandoori Restaurant Edenbridge, Kent

Mr. Zakir Ahmed Spice Island County Durham

Mr. Manik Miah Nazmins Balti House Earlsfield, London

Mr. Abdul Jabbar / Mr. Anwar Jabbar New Diwan-EE-Khas Camberley, Surrey

Mr. Abdul Hye / Mr. Modu Miah Pipasha Restaurant Cambridgeshire

Mr. Abdul Mubin Indian Room Balham, London

Mr. Fukhera Khalid CHAK89 Mitcham, Surrey

Mr. Wazid H Shelim Pride of Asia Mile End Road, East London

Mr. Bijaya B Raut / Mr. Suresh K Shrestha Gurkha Palace Restaurant & Bar Hastings, East Sussex

Mr. Mahmud Ali / Mr. Abdul Harid Dhaka Tandoori Restaurant Carlisle, Cumbria

Mr. Jainul Uddin Ruchi Indian Restaurant Southchurch, Essex

Mr. Jalfukar Ali The Spice Cube Tyne and Wear

Mr. Anwar Hussain Royal Tandoori Corby, Northamptonshire


Mr. Akik Ali Balti Night Braintree, Essex Mr. Jubair Zaman Spice Cranleigh, Surrey

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Mr. Nozmul Hussain Hassan’s Indian Takeaway Leigh On Sea, Essex

Mr. Sahedur Rahman Tiffin Express Hoxton, London Mr. Mushtak Khan Chigwell Tandoori Chigwell, Essex

Local Winners

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Local Winners

22 Spice Times

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14/01/2011 09:54

THE EVENING’S ENTERTAINMENT Not only did the Spice Times Restaurant Awards 2010 have esteemed guests and dignitaries to present the awards and give speeches, but there was world class entertainment on offer. The entertainment was an intrinsic part of the ceremony and as important as the flavoursome food that was laid on by catering company Pride of Asia.

The world’s number one Michael Jackson tribute act, Signature shot to fame after coming second on Britain’s Got Talent. They performed an energetic thirty minute set and danced to all of the late singer’s hits. Dance troupe Flex FX, who are the stars of the returning Sky1 HD series Got to Dance, and continue to wow judges and audiences alike.

BOLLYWOOD DANCE GROUP: FLEX FX Flex FX Productions are the “UK’s Leading Bollywood Dance Production Company”. Established in 2003, Flex FX has been recognised internationally for providing the finest Bollywood entertainment, dazzling dance routines, musical phenomena and variety performances. 24 Spice Times

Flex FX Productions provide specialist acts, artists, choreographers and directors for all aspects of the entertainment industry, including dance spectaculars and musicals.


SIGNATURE Signature are the world’s number one Michael Jackson tribute act. They were the 2008 runners-up on the hit TV show Britain’s Got Talent, and impressed the judges with their notable style of British Bhangra dance. The pair were also given the seal of approval by the late singer himself.

Spice times 25


These 11 awards recognise the highest voted restaurants in each region of Great Britain. From running internet campaigns to offering special promotions that enticed customers through their doors, the level of ingenuity and commitment from the participating establishments has been overwhelming. But, these 11 regional winners in particular could have only got this far with the support of their customers, and the high standard of food and service that each work passionately to sustain.

Award presented by: Councillor Prince Sadik Choudhury, Atma Singh, Mayoral of London contender, and Mr Moinul Hussain, Chairman of Spice Times. Award presented to Mr Lutfur Rahman and Mr Memrej Khan

Best Restaurant in South West England: Signature Viceroy 26 Spice times

Regional Winners

Award presented by: Mr Miah Monirul Alum, chairman of Euro Bangla; Dr Hassnat Hussain and Rushnara Ali, MP. Award presented to Mr Basharat Ellahi and Mr Faisal Hussain.

Best Restaurant in Yorkshire & the Humber: Shimla Spice “We are extremely happy winning this award, after winning the best restaurant in the Bradford district for many years. Being crowned the best restaurant in Yorkshire by Spice Times, is a real great honour. As Bradford has won the Curry Capital of England 2010 and Shimla Spice represented Bradford in that national competition, it’s great to be recognised as 1of the best restaurant in the hospitality industry.” Mr Faisal Hussain

Best Restaurant in London: Kasturi

“A great honour & privilege to win this award.” Mr. Bashir Ahamed

Award presented by: Rushnara Ali, MP, and Andrew Rosindell, MP for Havering. Award presented to Mr Bashir Ahmed and family. Spice Times 27

Regional Winners

Regional London Mr. Bashir Ahamed Kasturi Aldgate High Street, London East England Mr. Moftil Hussain Mumtaz Mahal Benfleet, Essex South East Mr. Jubair Zaman Curry Inn Surrey North West Award presented by: Anne Holland, Mayor of Southend; Steve Davies, HSBC Commercial Director, and Mr Yawar Khan, Chariman FOBC. Award presented to Mr Moftil Hussain and family. Mr. Alamgir Ali The Viceroy Best Restaurant in East England: Mumtaz Mahal Cumbria East Midlands Mr. Naz Islam Saffron Northamptonshire West Midlands Mr. Mohammad Azad / Mr. Abdul Husen Cafe Saffron Shropshire Yorkshire and the Humber Mr. Basharat Ellahi Shimla Spice West Yorkshire South West Mr. Luthfur Rahaman Signature Viceroy Somerset Scotland Mr. Matin Khan Itihaas Banglaseshi & Indian Restaurant Edinburgh Wales Mr. Harun R Rhaman Ty Asha Balti House North Wales North East

Award presented by: Mr Shamsul Uddin Khan, President of Bangladesh Awami League; Mr MK Hussain, Allied Foods Director and Amin Ali, Director of Red Fort. Award presented to Mr Matin Khan.

Best Restaurant in South West England: Itihaas Bangladeshi & Indian Restaurant 28 Spice times

Regional Winners

Award presented by: Councillor Michael White and Barrister Mr M Saloam, BNP. Award presented to Mr Harunur Rhaman.

Best Restaurant in Wales: Ty^ Asha Balti House

Award presented by: Councillor Damon White and Mr Monchab Ali, JP Chairman GSC. Award presented to Mr Naz Islam, Mr Tipu Rahman and family.

Best Restaurant in the East Midlands: Saffron Spice Tim Times 29

Regional Winners

Award presented by: Rushnara Ali, MP; Counciller Melvin Wallace, Deputy Mayor of Havering, and Sharon Hodgson, MP. Award presented to Mr Athair Khan.

Best Restaurant in North East England: The Last Days of the Raj

Award presented by: Mr Reza Ahmed Faisol Choudhury, Chairman of Channel i Europe, and Mr Kumar Uddin, BNP. Award presented to Mr Abdul Husen and Mr Mohammad Azad, and family.

Best Restaurant in the West Midlands: Cafe Saffron 30 Spice Times

Regional Winners

Award presented by: Mr Ohid Ahmed, Deputy Mayor Tower Hamlets; Mr Mark Sweetingham, MP, and Chef Tommy Miah. Award presented to Mr Alamgir Ali.

Best Restaurant in North West England: The Viceroy

Best Restaurant in North West England: The Viceroy

Best Restaurant in South East England: Curry Inn

“Although The Viceroy is a very decorated Bangladeshi Restaurant with a rich history of swooping major awards, this is the very first major award won under my leadership. It felt fantastic to be on the stage in front of so many well known and successful business men. Like I said when I was presented my award, it’s one of the most memorable moments in my career, and this is something I will never forget. I have no doubt this will be the first of many more to come in the future.” Mr Alamgir Ali

Award presented by: Councillor Billy Taylor and Mr Paravez Ahmed. Award presented to Mr Jubair Zaman and family. Spice times 31


â&#x20AC;&#x153; I was extremely proud that my restaurant had won, and the fact that it was our customers and not any other judges that made it even more special. To be considered for the regional award was credit to our hard work, but then to go and win the national award was absolutely fantastic. I would like to thank all the customers that voted for us.â&#x20AC;? Mr. Athair Khan - Restaurant owner

Award presented by: His Excellency Dr Mohammed Syeedur Rahman Khan; Mr Moinul Hussain, Chairman of Spice Times, and Sharon Hodgson, MP. Award presented to Mr Athair Khan. 32 Spice ice tim times





Voted national winner of Spice Times Restaurant Awards 2010


he Last Days of the Raj is located in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, just a stone’s throw away from Scotland. The restaurant is surrounded by green, leafy trees and high hedgerows; which make the jewel of the North East easy to miss, but those that enter are treated to what is officially the best curry in the country. As you walk in, the entrance is reminiscent of a South Asian café. But as you move further into the restaurant, the decor becomes more typically British, with its grandfather clocks and nautical trinkets which compliment the name, The Last Days of the Raj. The menu is also as diverse as the surroundings, with over twenty different styles of dishes covering every facet of South Asian cooking. From the traditional Balti to the less conventional, such as duck dishes, it covers all flavours and every palate. Each dish is cooked with delicious authentic spices which make dining here an absolute delight.

“As you walk in, the entrance is reminiscent of a South Asian café.”

34 Spice Times

“The restaurant is surrounded by green, leafy trees and high hedgerows; which make the jewel of the North East easy to miss...”


REGIONAL WINNERS Spice Times reviews a few of the Regional Award winners

Shimla Spice Shimla Spice in Shipley, Bradford, is a shining example of using modern décor and furnishings to update British perception of the traditional South Asian restaurant. Upon first entering the establishment, you would think you were inside a modern gourmet restaurant.

Café Saffron Café Saffron is a favourite in the region of Shrewsbury, and boasts an award winning chef who was featured on BBC1’s The John Bishop Show. Saffron’s chef has also won the Shropshire council’s Curry Chef of the Year 2010 award. The restaurant offers some of the most authentic food available, and features chillis and spices that are only grown and found in parts of Bangladesh.

The Viceroy The Viceroy in Carlisle is truly the pride of Cumbria and is the most popular Asian restaurant in the region. Winning a regional award at Spice Times Restaurant Awards 2010 further cemented it as the premier South Asian eatery in Cumbria.

Spice times 35


THE SPICE QUIZ Have a chance to win a top prize in every issue of Spice Times! To enter our competition, you will need to complete the puzzles below and send us a photocopy of the page. So why not give it a go? After all you never know, you could get lucky! In this issueâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s competition we are giving away a Nintendo Wii. Runners up will recieve a case of Pepsi 24x300ml.



Spice Quiz sponsered by Pepsi To submit your entry by post please write to: Spice Times Publishing Ltd 131 - 133 Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS2 6EL or email us at: Please leave your name, address and telephone number. Play the quiz online at Winners will be announced online in May


36 Spice times


Sponsor of the Spice Times Restaurant Awards 2010 FHS Global is a specialist wholesale supply and branding company operating out of Birmingham Spice Times recently spoke to FHS Global CEO/owner Mr Shihab Bukhari. FHS Global is a specialist wholesale supply and branding company operating out of Birmingham, and is a valued sponsor of the Spice Times Awards. The company specialises in bespoke packaging, allowing retailers to sell core food products under their own brands, and offering brand consultancy to aid clients in maximising their businessâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s competitiveness and marketability.

What is your company about? FHS Globalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s main objective is to source and supply premium products that are competitively priced under bespoke/own label bags for established wholesalers in the UK. We only supply specific products and only choose a handful of well established wholesalers to supply too. We design, re-brand, supply and pack the products we make. We cater for the wholesale catering industry, fast food and ethnic bakeries.

What kind of branding do you do? We help design and market new products for existing customers or re-vamp their current brands, helping with logo design, web design, packaging design and consulting with which markets to promote products into. We source and procure products to our customer needs.

(Left) Mr Moinul Hussain (Right) Mr Shihab Bukhari FHS Global CEO/owner

Do you have any new products that people may be interested in? We have launched our Goldmill selfraising flour in the last twelve months, which is a premium product competitively priced. As it is one of our fastest selling products we have only selected specific distributors for the flour. Some of our distributors include Allied Foods (Southend), RS Foods (Barking) and Rohim Bros Mile End (London), Global Foods (Cardiff), Sohal Foods (Derby), Ahmed Foods (Bradford), DWI Group (Midlands)... and many more! We have core products for the different markets, i.e. naan flour for the catering industry, pizza flour for fast food pizza, southern fried breading/marinades for fast food chicken outlets, self raising flour for Chinese catering, long grain and basmati rice for all industries. We will increase our distributors month by month in the UK and Ireland; all our products will be assigned in that way. We will not create conflicts and price wars, which is one of the reasons we work with selected wholesalers.

How can people order bespoke items or generic products? You will need to have an account with us, and it is all based on consultation, as if there is a product required for a specific need we will source/manufacture and distribute to the client. However, we require the minimum order of a full container.

We will be partnering with a group of companies, including logistical, so that all our products and most generic products will be accessible in pallet drops. So look out for DWI GROUP in the near future.

How did you get involved with Spice Times? We were honoured to be offered the opportunity to support an event that truly represented the South Asian catering industry; my father had one of the first restaurants in Birmingham in the 60â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s so the Bangladeshi restaurant trade has been in my family for decades. This is why I truly believe that this prestigious event was an illustration of our forefathers success, and even in this uncertain economical climate we truly have an industry that is still thriving from strength to strength. I feel that Mr Moinul Hussain has listened to the readers and created an event that lets the public vote making the Spice Times Restaurant Awards unique.

We are unique to the wholesale business as we exceed volumes that enable us to achieve premium quality products that are competitively priced. Spice times 37


THREE SISTERS INTERVIEW We caught up with Alexa Kaul, one of The Three Sisters

What made you and your sisters decide on writing a recipe book? Basically, we’ve always had this interest in food and growing up in Kashmir and watching my mother cook and grand mother cook and it was always a part of our lives. We were constantly helping cook by chopping or cutting vegetables, helping the family. Me younger sister, Serena bought this book once and decided to cook, but didn’t have all the ingredients and spices that was needed and thought that it wasn’t easy enough. We said to her, your food is so different to restaurant food, it’s so lovely and home-cooked. Why don’t you write the recipes up for us so we can cook it ourselves with all the spices as well? Eventually my sister just said that it would be good just to get the recipes off mum, which we did. We worked with my mum as well to develop the recipes and we thought it was a good idea to write this book. We really did it for ourselves and our family and friends. We self-published it ourselves and sold it with the spice box. We have designed the whole thirteen spices.

Where is the spice box available, is it available in supermarkets? It is available on our website, We sold the book with the spices as a set so people didn’t have to go and get the spices; it was all available in front of them. We laid the book out in an easy manner for people to follow, because cooking shouldn’t be complicated, it should be about just going “I’ve got that in my fridge, I’ll cook that”. It is easy as it has the shopping on one side, the ingredients on the other.

How are people finding your book? Have you had much response to it?

So you are aiming to expand like other major companies?

Have you had any talks with anyone at all?

It hasn’t been released yet but we have had done a couple of shows and one live cooking demonstration. We did an evening talking and singing in Henley, quite a few books were sold and people loved it. They loved the simplicity and the idea of it and it look home-cooked. There wasn’t too much oil in it or lots of spices, it was just delicately flavoured food.

We want to do fresh sauces with no preservatives, all natural. It’s all about the book at the moment. I think people will be pleasantly surprised.

No, not really. We want to bring home cooking to people. People think it’s complicated when it isn’t. It is following something that is simply laid out and once you have got your spices laid out it is easy and we want to really drive that home to people. We haven’t got any chef training. We are just passionate about food.

Do you have any plans to release more books in the future? Yes, I’m sure we will continue to write another book. It’s just talks at the moment and we’ll see how this one goes. We are also looking into to making chutneys and sauces, perhaps making some of our recipes into sauces for someone who wants something quick. 38 Spice Times

What tips do you have for aspiring cooks? Basically, keep it simple. The spices, that is the main thing with Indian food; people don’t usually have all the spices. Keep it fresh. What’s good about our book is that you don’t have to go shopping to a specialist Indian shop.

Would you ever like to do a TV show at all? Yes, absolutely.

Finally what are your favourite dishes that are in the book? I like the paneer and spinach.


LANCERS’ SHAHJAHANI MURGH A recipe from Abdul Haque, Head Chef at Lancers Brasserie


ollowing the great Spice Times tradition of delivering exclusive recipes that are straight from the experts, we have another one for you to enjoy; a mild chicken curry made with aromatic spices, yoghurt, saffron, Khoya (reduced milk) and Kewra. Lancers Brasserie in Edinburgh presents the Lancer’s Shahjahani Murgh. The recipe was created by Abdul Haque, Head Chef at Lancers Brasserie. The Shahjahani Murgh dates back to the time of Kewra Shahjahan, who was the fifth Moghul Emperor of India from 1426 to 1458. Many of the royal cooks had retired and settled down in Shahjahan city or Delhi as it is known today. These cooks created this dish and it has evolved over time.

Preparation of Ingredients: Preparation is a key element of Indian cooking. Setting aside a sufficient amount of time for this is critical to the success of the overall dish. 500g cubed chicken breast

4 tablespoons of whipped yoghurt

½ teaspoon of turmeric powder

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon of pistachio flake blanched

½ teaspoon of jeera powder

1 large onion finely chopped

1 tablespoon of coconut powder

½ teaspoon garam massalam powder

1 teaspoon of salt

½ tablespoon raisons

½ teaspoon of coriander powder

½ teaspoon ginger peeled and finely chopped

2 tablespoons of fresh single cream

½ cup of hot water

½ teaspoon garlic cloves peeled and minced

Mint leaves and fresh coriander

½ teaspoon of almond nuts

1 tablespoon almonds flakes

2 large green chillies chopped into fine strips

Method 1.

Heat oil on medium setting in a pan.


Fry garlic and ginger until slightly brown. At this point add the onions and fry till it is translucent.


Put in the cubed chicken breast into the pan and stir for 1 minute before adding salt.



After 5-7 minutes of frying while stirring, it is time to add the spices in the following order: turmeric, coriander, jeera and finally the garam massalam. At this point reduce the heat on the burner so that the spices do not burn, and stir vigorously so that they can mix for 1 minute.

7. At this point add the yogurt, coconut powder, almond flakes and pistachio flakes and stir for a further 1 minute.



Now cover the pan and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes while lifting the lid at 1 minute intervals to stir and add ½ teacup of hot water. At this point also add the chopped green chillies.

Now increase the heat on the burner and stir vigorously and fry for a further 7 minutes.

Add the single cream.


Your meal is now almost ready to serve in a dish. Finally, garnish it with fresh coriander and almond nuts.

Spice times 39



VEGETARIAN SUBSTITUTES Vegetarianism has been in vogue for many years now, but one problem many vegetarians face is the dilemma of eating out


any restaurants do not have their menus available over the internet, which makes it incredibly difficult to find out if there is indeed a vegetarian option, or even if there is a decent



Home cooking has seen a resurgence in recent years, most likely due to peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wallets being hit by the economic downturn. Curiously, this is good for the vegetarian diner who has meat eating friends. Dinner parties are a good way to enjoy a low cost meal at home. Vegetarian substitutes have become more viable within the past five years. Before Quorn and similar products, choice was severely limited. There are times however when a meal out is a must and considering Indian restaurants are Britainâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s favourite then there is a great likelihood that you will be visiting one of the many fine South Asian establishments.


Just like chickpeas, Spinach is best added to a dish to brighten up and add flavours. Combine it with chickpeas and sweet potato and you have yourself a very simple, nutritious and flavoursome dish. Despite being used by Popeye to receive great strength, the incredibly high iron content inside the plant is a complete myth. The man who originally measured the nutrition content, Dr. E Von Wolf, placed the decimal point in the wrong place, increasing the amount of iron by ten times.

Potato & Sweet Potato

Potato is one of the most commonly used substitutions for meat other than vegetables in South-Asian cooking. A superior option has to be the sweet potato variety. This type usually goes best with a spinach and chickpea curry. Sweet Potato is a brilliant source of vitamins, including A, which is good for the eyes; vitamin C, which is not naturally found in the body and is essential for an efficient immune system; and E. Both forms of potatoes are great sources of iron and magnesium, which are essential for vegetarians.

42 Spice Times

Chickpeas are not a true vegetarian alternative as they are not that useful as a meat substitute. Because of this, they could be added to enhance an otherwise dull dish. Another name for Chickpeas is Garbanzo beans, which is used by Spanish speaking countries. Chickpeas are also an integral part of hummus.


Quorn is rarely ever seen in restaurants, but is a popular meat substitute for home cooking. The Quorn brand uses a type of mycoprotein and is a healthy alternative to meats, including, chicken, beef and even beef mince. Out of all the available alternatives, the Quorn chicken is the closest to replicating the texture of meat. Quorn mince is also incredibly close to the protein content of its meat counterpart.


Paneer is a great substitute for things like chicken and lamb. There are also dishes that are specifically designed for the cheese. It is a fine deviation from the usual vegetable curry which seems to be the only option for veggies. The making of paneer does not involve rennet - this makes it completely vegetarian, and a prime source of protein for vegetarians throughout South-Asia.


THE ONION BHAJI Last issue Spice Times took a look at one of the foods that defines South Asian cuisine in the UK: the pappadom.

Method: 1. In a bowl mix together the onions, lemons juice, garlic, turmeric powder (if using) and fresh coriander.

This time in the spotlight we have the faithful onion bhaji, another staple as widely known and loved as the pappadom. This faithful starter is easily recognised by any curry connoisseur, or even someone who is not a big fan of Indian food. The charm of the bhaji is in how simple it is to make: onions, gram flour (made from chick peas) and a few spices are all that is required. In the UK the bhaji is usually eaten before a main meal, but in its native country of India the side dish is a popular street food, particularly in the Maharashtra region where it is usually eaten with hot coffee or tea. The snack is a staple of traditional Maharashtrian Hindu meals, especially during festival seasons. Bhajis are quite similar to the pakora. In fact they are also called a pakora in Hindi, but there are differences between a bhaji and a pakora, despite the names being regarded as the same. A pakora only becomes a bhaji (or onion bhaji) when onions alone are used.

2. Add the chick pea flour and water a little at a time until all the onions are coated well. The mixture should stick and hold together well.

Onion Bhajis Recipe Serves: 6 Preparation time: 10 mins Cooking time: 15 mins

Ingredients: 200g gram flour (chick pea flour) 1 garlic clove, peeled & finely chopped ! tsp turmeric powder (optional) 3-4 medium onions, finely sliced 1-2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander leaf Juice of ! lemon & wedges to serve 150-200ml water as required to make a bhaji consistency mix Salt, to taste Vegetable oil for deep frying

3. Heat the vegetable oil on the medium flame or in a deep fat fryer. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, make a loose ball from the mix with your fingers and drop carefully into the hot oil. 4. After a few minutes turn the bhaji over and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper. 5. Taste the bhaji and adjust the seasoning if required. 6. Make more bhaji with the remainder of the mixture and deep fry in batches until they are cooked through.


FEEDING THE NATION A spotlight on the life of the tiffin workers of India


ne of the most successful businesses that has gone relatively un-noticed around the world is the tiffin industry in India.

The Tiffin (light meal or lunch) workers, also known as dabbawallahs (one who carries a box) deliver cooked lunches to Mumbai’s office workers. They form possibly the most remarkable and hardest working workforce in the world. Each day an army of Tiffin workers collects the warm packed lunches from worker’s homes and quite astonishingly they are distributed with 99% accuracy. Their productivity is well recognised, and top business magazine Forbes have given them a Six Sigma rating.

“The Tiffin (light meal or lunch) workers, also known as dabbawallahs (one who carries a box) who deliver cooked lunches to Mumbai’s office workers.” Despite well publicised financial troubles in the region, and indeed the world, dabbawallah business is estimated to grow from between 5% and 10% each year.They are revered worldwide. Prince Charles of Wales visited them a few years ago and has had a connection with them ever since. Two Tiffin workers pooled together and sent Charles and Camilla wedding gifts and were subsequently whisked away to the couple’s wedding on an all expenses paid trip. The workers operate predominately in Mumbai. The practice of the delivery service spans back to the days of the British Raj in India. Workers from Britain did not like the meals that were consumed in India – unlike today’s curry obsessed nation – so they got their native cuisine delivered to their offices. The practice still lives on today, despite the British leaving India decades ago. As every office worker knows, it is a lot cheaper to bring your own lunch from home than pay for extortionate sub-standard packaged sandwiches from Pret or Marks and Spencer. We all secretly crave a delicious and warm, home-cooked meal but this is near impossible unless you have a maid or butler; a luxury only the affluent can afford. Over 175,000 Tiffin boxes are shifted each day, and the method is not confined to only people who work in offices. Busy parents are also

using them to send their kids a cooked lunch; quite the polar opposite to the UK tradition of warm, sweating cheese sandwiches coupled with a chocolate bar and a sugar loaded fizzy drink. What makes the business so unique is that little to no high tech gadgets are utilised. A text message service is one of the few pieces of technology used; so that workers can text their addresses to the delivery men and women.

set up. The number of people commuting on the rise means an even earlier start to the working day, with little hope of making a packed lunch before the bleary-eyed rush for the train. There is potentially a lot of money to be made by the company that manages to implement a similar system in the over here.

“Over 175,000 Tiffin boxes are shifted each day, and the method is not confined to only people who work in offices.” While the delivery service is predominantly male orientated, women are rarely seen carrying the heavy packages, which can weigh up to 80kgs. They do exist in the hard working world of the dabbawallah but they carry about half as much as the men. It is baffling as to why the practice of hiring a man or woman to deliver your home-cooked lunches to your desk has not caught on anywhere other than the Indian subcontinent. Perhaps it may be out of reach for the common man in this country. Such a service would likely be too expensive if implemented. The dabbawallah service definitely remains an area that has not been explored by UK business. Cities such as London, Birmingham and Manchester could easily have a similar system Spice times 45

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To some, the idea of chilli and chocolate combined may seem less than appealing. We brave the heat and suggest some of our favourite chillie sweets.


n Britain you would be hard pressed to find someone who does not like chocolate at all. Brands like Cadbury and Nestle are part of a multi-million pound industry which is loved by not only the nation but the world. You can walk into almost any food shop on any street and you will be welcomed by a multitude of variations on the traditional dark and milk chocolates. From fruit and nut to honeycomb and extra dark chocolate to chocolate bar mashups like the Milka and Dime Bar concoction, the list is endless. But there is one style and flavour of chocolate that sounds like it should not exist, one that many people have not heard of or are too timid to try; it is of course, chilli and chocolate. When thought about, it seems like the perfect combination, the mix of sweet milk or dark chocolate with the bite of the spicy chilli pepper. Much like the other types of chocolate, you can get chilli chocolate in different styles. Different brands such as Milka and Lindt manufacture their own types of chilli and chocolate. These types can include both the dark and milk chocolate variety. Of course, chocolate is always in the news, with different scientists discovering inventive new ways in which the sweet snack can be advertised as healthy - which ends up with you justifying the gorging on a family sized Toblerone at Christmas. Out of all the chocolate that is on offer, chilli chocolate is perhaps the best sweet in regards to benefits towards your health. Chilli is one of the best foods you can eat as it is linked to weight loss, stopping Alzheimer’s, lowering of blood pressure and even preventing cancer. It must be remembered that it is only dark chocolate, in very small portions, that provides any health benefits. Chocolate is an incredibly flexible sweet and snack, as it can be enjoyed in a convenient bar as well as added to a million other desserts, be it melted or flaked. Chocolate can be used in an array of cakes, from the humble cupcake to a 2,000 calorie fudge cake behemoth, or simply put in ice cream. All of these treats can have chilli chocolate in them and will make an ideal and interesting addition to any dinner party meal. Below are my two favourite chilli chocolate bars. One is a standard chocolate bar infused with the fiery chilli and the other is an odd mix of chocolate with flaked chilli on top of it.

Milka Fever Milka chocolate is the milkiest of all chocolates that is on offer, and rivals the sugar laden utopia of the Cadbury range. For a chocolate bar that bears the moniker ‘Fever’ there is actually very little heat when you taste it, which makes this bar more of an introductory one for those who have yet to be indoctrinated into the world of the chilli and do not have suitably numb taste buds.

“Chilli is one of the best foods you can eat, as it is linked to weight loss, stopping Alzheimer’s, lowering of blood pressure and even stopping cancer”

What this bar is good for other than enjoying while watching television, is to melt down and use it in a recipe to make a cake or a mousse.

Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe Flaked Chilli Chocolate After my encounter with the Milka Fever I scoffed at claims that this was, in fact, actually quite hot. Perhaps I should have realised that this is real chilli on top of my chocolate and used moderation when eating this fireball. Of course I quickly scoffed half the bar and my mouth felt like a volcano. If eaten slowly and steadily, the heat is pleasant and enjoyable. This bar’s best feature is also its biggest problem; the flaked chilli. It must be handed carefully as the flakes are not embedded into it but they are sprinkled on top and I found a lot of them to be at the bottom of the bag. Spice Times 47



Former MP and Chief Executive of Freedom from Torture Keith Best discusses the current state of the Bangladeshi catering industry in Britain, and how we can ensure its future


rom the days of Dean Mahomed, who opened the Hindostanee Coffee House in central London (1809) more than 200 years ago, the influence of curry on the British palate has been felt. More than any other community that has settled in the UK, Bengalis have changed the British way of life through its cuisine to the extent that a former Secretary of State for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office described chicken tikka masala as the British national dish.

The new generation are becoming professional doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers and are not interested in taking over the restaurants from their parents. There is a real succession problem, which can only be solved by increasing partnership of existing restaurants with other British businesses and individuals. How many restaurant owners have recruited non-Bengalis into their management and as non-executive directors in order to broaden their base? This should be considered.

Some 12,000 restaurants throughout the UK employing about 100,000 people and contributing £3.5 billion a year to the economy mean thousands of curries are eaten each week. There is an important social side to this: the cuisine tends to be at the lower end of the cost range for eating out - although I had breakfast recently in the prestigious Cinnamon Club in Westminster, which is an exception! And, of course, there is the large number of takeaways. It means that poorer families at least have the chance of taking their families out for a meal, as a social event from time to time or not having to cook at home. It has also meant that the British now enjoy much spicier food than previously.

The second problem, however, is the old one in which I have been involved for many years; namely, an acceptance by the British Government that its immigration policy must take account of the need to be able to recruit skilled chefs and kitchen porters from overseas, where these cannot be found within the UK workforce. I have been on many delegations to see Immigration Ministers with leading restaurateurs. The industry has a strong lobby from the Bangladesh Caterers Association, Guild of Bangladeshi Restaurateurs, the more recently formed Federation of Bangladeshi Caterers and I pay tribute to Spice Times Magazine for instituting the first annual curry awards based on a popular vote of customers in the restaurants.

There are two issues that are now threatening the continuance of the traditional curry house. The first is a function of the success and development of the British Bengali community.

“There is a real succession problem, which can only be solved by increasing partnership of existing restaurants with other British businesses and individuals.”

48 Spice Times

Gaining the support of public opinion is important in any campaign and the engagement of customers can be used to put pressure on the politicians to recognise these problems. There has been some limited success such as the Migration Advisory Committee recognising that curry chefs should be on the skills shortage list for a while. Nevertheless, more needs to be done to secure the future of the industry. Of course, no-one expects an open door immigration policy for people from Bangladesh, and I applaud the efforts that are now being made to establish culinary schools, both in the UK and in Bangladesh, to train chefs of any nationality in the art of curry. I have been

Keith Best is Chief Executive of Freedom from Torture [Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture] and formerly, for sixteen years, the Chief Executive of the Immigration Advisory Service.

a judge in the awards for chefs organised by Mr Tommy Miah, who has done much in this regard. Nevertheless, curry cuisine in its rich variety of mix of spices and flavours, as well as styles of cooking (which require specialist chefs

“Curry cuisine in its rich variety of mix of spices and flavours, as well as styles of cooking is far more complicated than other national cuisine, and Ministers should recognise that.”

in these fields, such as tandoori) is far more complicated than other national cuisine, and Ministers should recognise that. One of the problems is that in the UK and Western culture much emphasis is placed on paper qualifications (and under Tier 2 of the current UK immigration Points Based System points are awarded on this basis), whereas in the Indian sub-continent more store is placed on experience. We must find a way of bridging this gap whereby experience itself can better be recognised as a qualification in itself. There remains the difficulty in attracting low paid kitchen porters, who have to work long, hard and anti-social hours in often cramped and hot kitchen conditions, but where a mistake in gathering an ingredient can ruin a dish. There can only be one answer to this in order to open opportunities to a wider potential workforce, and that is for the language of the kitchen increasingly to become English rather than Bengali. But this will take time and, in the meantime, the Government should be sympathetic to allowing a quota of lower skilled workers for this purpose to come from

OPINION Bangladesh if they cannot be found from among the resident Bangladeshi community; where there is evidence that low employment rates should indicate such availability. This also raises another difficult cultural issue, and that is the acceptance of Bangladeshi women undertaking such tasks where there is often the lowest employment rate. I do not pretend that these are easy issues to resolve, but I feel able to present them on the basis of my long association with Bangladesh. I was first in Dhaka in November 1972, when the atmosphere was electrified with the birth of the nation, and I have visited on many subsequent occasions. I still know many who were Mukti Bahini, and I pay tribute to the sacrifice that was made by so many in the creation of Bangladesh. I saw Bangabandhu give a speech in Ramna Park, and many years later went to his house where the atrocity of his assassination took place. I have often called on Sheikh Hasina in Dhanmondi and also know many BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) supporters as well as having met many Ministers and politicians over the years having opened an Immigration Advisory Service office in Sylhet in 2000. I am privileged to have many probashi British Bangladeshis as personal friends and I chair the charity the Bangladesh Female Academy which provides education to disadvantaged girls in Derai, a very poor part of Sylhet.

There are enormous historic links between Bangladesh and Britain. The Bangladesh Government website acknowledges the support of the British people, Government and the media during Bangladesh’s War of Liberation in 1971. The UK was among the first of the European countries to recognise Bangladesh on 4 February 1972. The UK is the third largest export destination of Bangladeshi products after USA and Germany. Many of the some 500,000, mainly Sylheti, Bangladeshis, who live in the UK are dual nationals, many have businesses in both countries; the remittances from the UK to Bangladesh are helping to develop the country. Overall, Bangladesh is the fifth highest remittance-earning country in the world and a 2005 International Organisation for Migration report showed the impact that remittances can have in reducing vulnerability, providing financial safety nets and improving areas such as access to education and household debt – almost $11 billion came in remittances from workers overseas in 2009 and they are the secondbiggest source of foreign income after readymade garments. I often describe such business owners as the new global entrepreneurs who are setting the trend.

We must preserve these links and not allow trade and immigration policies to damage them in any way. The Bangladeshi British community now has representatives in the Houses of Parliament and is pre-eminent in so many other ways. It is growing in its importance within the UK and I wish it well for the future and look forward to continuing my support wherever I can.

“There remains the difficulty in attracting low paid kitchen porters, who have to work long, hard and anti-social hours in often cramped and hot kitchen conditions, but where a mistake in gathering an ingredient can ruin a dish.”


50 dries with the Vortex hand Dryer will cost your business just 1p... Energy efficient technology by SAVortex The first smart hand dryer which recovers energy and saves money whilst drying “far superior on all counts” says energy experts. The award winning hand drying company, enters the Indian restaurant sector adding energy efficiency, cost savings and making your customer experience that much more fun and green - with its revolutionary spinning air technology. CEO Syed Ahmed says: “We are currently working with a number of organisations, helping them achieve a greener status. We are confident we can advise and demonstrate similar cost & energy savings for the Indian restaurant sector. As a British Bangladeshi I love a curry; however I do feel our restaurants can be more energy conscious and save thousands of pounds in the process”. Keeping this in mind, we have launched the greenest and most cost saving hand dryer in the WORLD, an eco-smart hand dryer; which dries hands in the 10 seconds using only 550 watts” Why so special?

Award winning sleek design Significant CO2 saving Quick and easy installation, with retro-fitting options 5 Year warranty

The unique patented vortex technology and regenerative heating technique replaces the conventional heating elements found in the majority of today’s hand dryers. The Vortex has been tested to one million hand dries, and hence it comes with an industry leading 5 year warranty ensuring a sound investment.

Compelling Cost Savings: The Vortex is so energy efficient, 50 drying cycles will cost your business just 1p - that’s less than £4 per year! With an extraordinary 98.4% saving against paper towels as well as the lowest total cost of ownership of any high speed hand dryer, the Vortex is truly an unbeatable drying solution. Case study: Mr Lutfur Rahman, owner of the award winning, Signature Viceroy fine dining Indian restaurant spends approximately £100pm on paper towels, annually this amounts to £1200 and over 5 years his total spend is £5,800 - this is extremely high. However, since incorporating the Vortex hand dryer, at 50 driers per day Mr Rahman’s electricity cost will be just 1p and annually as little as £3.65, and accumulated over 5 years, that’s just over £21! Now that’s a huge cost reduction, and makes good business sense. Mr Rahman is a forward thinking business man and his customers appreciate his efforts to run a ‘Green’ business.... It’s the future. He says: “ I highly recommend the Vortex hand dryer and I am looking for to saving money with this Eco-friendly product ”. We can save your business thousands of pounds against paper towels and other energy hungry hand driers. To see how, and order your Vortex, please call Duncan Wood or James Brown on 0207 847 4091 or visit our website SAVortex Ltd, 3 Bunhill Row. London EC1Y 8YZ

Spice Times 51



A YEAR IN REVIEW 2010 got off to a bad start when a suicide bombing occurred in January at a volleyball game in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 95, and injuring over 100.The Togo national football team was also involved in an attack in Angola, and as a result withdrew from the Africa Cup of Nations. The tallest man-made structure to date, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, was officially opened in January and stands at a mind-blowing 2,717 ft. January also had an event from which the effects are still being felt today. A 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, devastating the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince with a confirmed death toll over 230,000. February brought us the 2010 Winter Olympics, which were held in Vancouver and Whistler, Canada. Britain did not do very well and only walked away with one medal; a gold for Amy Williams in the skeleton bob.

August marked the official end of the swine flu. The World Health Organization declared the H1N1 influenza pandemic over, stating that worldwide flu activity had returned to typical seasonal patterns.

April was a bad month for travellers and people waiting go on holiday. Volcanic ash from one of several eruptions beneath Eyjafjallajökull, an ice cap in Iceland, began to disrupt air traffic across Northern and Western Europe. The news was filled with images of people stranded at each of the countries’ airports.

The Spice Times Restaurant Awards 2010 started its official campaign in September 2010 and was hugely successful, with winners from all across Britain coming together at the Gala Dinner in December.

That same month, the Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing

In October, the thirty-three miners near Copiapó, Chile, who were trapped 700 meters underground in a mining accident in San José Mine, were brought back to the surface after surviving for a record 69 days. The event captured the hearts of the world and the moment when they were finally brought out of the mine provided one of the most gripping news stories of the past few years. eleven workers. The resulting oil spill, one of the largest in history, spread for several months, damaging the waters and the United States coastline, and prompting international debate and doubt about the practice and procedures of offshore drilling. The 2010 FIFA World Cup took place in South Africa in June and July. It was the first time the World Cup came to the continent of Africa, and was an enormous success for the nation and the whole of Africa itself.

The November G-20 summit was held in Seoul, South Korea. Korea becomes the first non-G8 nation to host a G-20 leader’s summit. In the same month, Burmese opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi was released from her house arrest. The Spice Times Awards 2010 Gala Dinner took place at City Pavilion in Romford, London, on December 12th. The Best National Restaurant Award, based on public votes, went to The Last Days of Raj.

Spice times 53


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Spice Times Special Awards Edition  

Spice Times is a quarterly magazine released throughout the UK aimed at the South Asian restaurant and catering business. In the ever chang...

Spice Times Special Awards Edition  

Spice Times is a quarterly magazine released throughout the UK aimed at the South Asian restaurant and catering business. In the ever chang...