Mumtaz Bradford has won Best Curry House for the North East, beating out competition Aagrah Leeds City and Aagrah Midpoint at the British Curry Awards on Monday, 29 November.
The British Curry Awards is a pioneer in the celebration of British Asian hospitality. Founded in 2005, the British Curry Awards showcase the best of the best curry houses, with restaurants from all over the UK competing for a title.
There are thirteen categories, with ten of them representing different regions, with the addition of Best Newcomer, Best Delivery Restaurant/Takeaway and Most Innovative Restaurant Concept.
Both restaurants were up for Best Curry House in the North East, despite Bradford being some 80 miles away from the Teeside boundary.
Mumtaz on Great Horton Road was founded in 1979 and serves authentic Kashmiri cuisine with two restaurants in Bradford and one in Leeds.
Aagrah, was founded two years prior in 1977 in Shipley and also serves authentic Kashmiri cuisine, across nine restaurants across West Yorkshire.
Mumtaz and Aagrah have always been stiff competition, with Mumtaz Bradford winning the prestigious accolade in 2018 and Aagrah Leeds taking the trophy in 2015.
The awards were different last year, as most restaurants were at least partially closed for many months due to the national lockdown.
Asian Standard reached out to the British Curry Awards to get a statement on why there isn’t a Yorkshire category, despite many top South Asian restaurants hailing from the region.
Founder of the British Curry Awards, businessman Enam Ali MBE said: “At the end of the day, we try to find the best restaurant. The restaurant that people enjoy and is the best. We don’t tell people that they cannot enter the competition because they are outside a geographical boundary.
“The winner is the restaurant who has the best food, best presentation, the best service, that is it. The location doesn’t matter at all. We have regional categories because restaurants in the North, or in Scotland or Wales wouldn’t be able to compete with London.”
Mr Ali said that he has plans to shake the awards up, as he does every few years, but did not confirm if he intends to add a category specifically for Yorkshire.
The glossy event took place at Battersea Evolution in London, where hundreds of restaurateurs, business owners, celebrities, and sports stars were in attendance.
Cricketer Azeem Rafiq; Love Island contestant Priya Gopaldas, television GP Dr Amir Khan, filmmaker, actor, and presenter, Mistah Islah, music artists, Patti Boulaye and Mr Fabulous were in attendance among many others.
The ceremony was hosted by actor and comedian, Omid Djalili. Bollywood star, Abhishek Bachchan, attended virtually to present the award for the Best Restaurant West Midlands category.
This year’s ceremony had particular significance, given the challenges faced by the industry over the past 18 months of the pandemic, and acknowledged the industry’s spirit and resilience through difficult business and personal circumstances.
The industry has seen many leaders, pioneers, restaurateurs and staff tragically lose their lives to Covid. This year’s ceremony paid tribute to those that have passed away. Additionally, operational issues such as supply chain and staff shortages and the knock-on effect of multiple lockdowns have had a lasting impact on business.
Nevertheless, the entrepreneurial spirit and strong will of the UK curry community continues to work tirelessly to serve customers and diners across the UK with the nation’s favourite dish.
Speaking at the event, Mr Ali said: “What a year we have had – full of highs and lows as we have come out of the pandemic and had to try and rebuild our businesses after lockdowns. The support of our customers has been incredible, but the challenges are still significant.
“At the British Curry Awards, we have always stood up for the causes that matter to the industry. We are all now benefitting from the so-called vindaloo visa which has helped address the chef shortage problem.
“We will always fight your corner. And the Government does listen to us. This year we have received many reports that restaurants that had got high, four or five stars ‘scores on the doors’ in the past from local environmental health officers have been getting marked down to only one or two stars.
“It seems from the reports we are getting that, often, restaurants are being marked down for fairly minor, technical infringements. Even though these can often be quickly rectified they are having to wait up to six months to be reassessed. This is unfair and is putting many already struggling businesses as they come out of the pandemic on the verge of closure.
“What we are asking for is the government to require local authorities to have a much faster appeal and recertification process, so that those marked down can be reassessed in 4-6 weeks, not 4-6 months. Otherwise, we will not be able to play our part in the recovery of our high streets, as this inflexible process will prove the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”