An ode to the "curry king"

Monday 02nd November 2015 12:37 EST

Lord Gulam Kaderbhoy Noon was a man like no other. An entrepreneur, a pioneer, an inspiration- some of the adjectives that could be used in honour of Lord Noon. A void has certainly been left after his sad demise- a void that will be near impossible to fill.

Born in the 1930s, in Bombay (now known as Mumbai), in British India, he was instrumental in changing Britain's eating habits; popularising Bombay mix and commercialising Chicken Tikka Masala, Lord Noon won himself the title of the “curry king”, as he helped curry supersede fish and chips to become Britain's favourite dish.

The curry King was also a selfless philanthropist who donated to causes in India, as well as in the UK. He also financed hospitals and schools in India.

In India, Lord Noon's family had a sweet-making business. After the demise of his father, his mother and uncle tried to revive the business. He also started to work in one of the two sweet shops. At the age of 17, he took over the shops and change their names to Royal Sweets and expanded the business.

Lord Noon made a brief visit to Britain in 1964, as a tourist and in the early 1970s, he came over with only £50 in his pocket and set up his sweetshop in Southall, Bombay Halwa. He had initially struggled but ultimately became popular among Ugandan Asians who had been expelled by Idi Amin, in 1972.

He established Noon Products, in 1988, which provided chill and frozen meals for supermarkets. His first order was for £2.7 million from Birds Eye, followed by Sainsbury's and Waitrose.

He was very vocal in speaking against extremism and was committed to the British way of life. His approach had made him a popular figure with politicians. He also warned against the influence of radical imams in the UK, and also sat on the committee that contrived new procedures for becoming a British citizen.

Lord Noon was proposed by Ed Miliband for the Lords in 2011. He had also received a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1996, and was made a Knight Bachelor in 2002. In 1995, he had founded the Asian Business Association and was the president of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He had also set up his Gulam Noon charitable foundation in 1995.

One of the most life-changing experiences for him was surviving the terror attack at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, in 2008. He shared his experience of that traumatic phase in his book, Noon, With a View: Courage and Integrity. After the horrifying experience, Lord Noon stated, “Now Britain needs to get tough with the radical imams.”

Lord Noon's life makes one incredible saga which will resonate throughout the years to come. However, he tragically left the world after reportedly suffering from a prolonged illness. At age 79, he bid farewell to this world, leaving a legacy behind which will continue to inspire British Asians from all walks of life.

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