Curry houses across Bristol 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, from Fishponds, whose own parents ran a restaurant, 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.”
Naseem’s father, Hazi Mohammed Siddik Ali, came to the UK in the early 1970s and opened his first restaurant in Bath, called Prince of India, in London Road. He later opened Rupali in Kingswood, Bristol, in 1981, which attracted widespread custom at the time as it was one of the first to use a clay oven tandoor. Naseem now heads Rajasthan Royal in Downend and his work in the food industry led him to help the homeless and set up PPAAP.
Enam Ali, the 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.
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.