Curry houses are commemorating the forefathers who introduced millions of Britons to a taste of the subcontinent.
British Curry Day has been launched to mark those who came to Britain from the 1960s – opening restaurants and takeaways – and to show support for the industry today.
And businesses taking part will donate £1 to good causes for every Tikka Masala – the nation’s favourite curry – sold on Wednesday, December 1.
Community champion Naseem Talukdar, who is manager of Rajastan Royal in Bristol and whose own parents ran a restaurant from the 1970s, said: “British Curry has been a key culinary and cultural contribution made by migrants from the Indian subcontinent.
“In turn, it has helped to support future generations in the industry – as well as doctors, teachers, engineers and other professions which help their communities.”
Enam Ali, publisher of Spice Business magazine and event founder, said: “Tragically we are losing many of the country’s first curry restaurateurs, who are now elderly with severe underlying health issues, to the pandemic.
“These people came to a strange foreign land at the invitation of the British government. Through their own endeavours and willingness to work anti-social hours, they built a special industry, which is now an integral part of British society.”
UK Curry Connect (UKCC) is a campaign group which has been set up to raise awareness of skills shortages in the Asian catering industry.
Naseem is UKCC director for social responsibility and sustainability, as well as founder of Plastic Pollution Awareness and Action Projects (PPAAP) charity – looking at ways to reduce single-plastic use in the catering industry.
He added: “The industry has changed dramatically over the last 60 years and we have to find ways to continue to be sustainable.”
British Curry Day coincides with 50 years of independence for Bangladesh and it is a national holiday in the country on December 16.
The event is expected to raise thousands of pounds for 10 small community groups, through #AskingBristol – connecting charities with individuals, organisations and business who can support them.
High Sheriff of Bristol Susan Davies said: “It is such a brilliant idea to celebrate with a national Curry Day. Curry is now one of the nation’s favourite dishes and linking this with Independence Day is perfect – as most of the cuisine we know so well was brought to Britain from Bangladesh.
“But not only is this a day of celebration for Bangladeshis and their wonderful food, but dozens of restaurants across the region are also raising money for local charities making this a valuable event in so many ways.”
For more information, visit https://twitter.com/britishcurryday