A curry house in Somerset is joining a national celebration to commemorate the forefathers who introduced millions of Britons to a taste of the subcontinent – and raise money for charity.
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 Paprika in Gilda Close, Whitchurch is among businesses to donate £1 to good causes for every Tikka Masala – the nation’s favourite curry – sold on Wednesday, December 1.
Tanveer Rahman, who runs Paprika and is third generation in the trade, said: “I love the industry and it’s in my bloodline. It’s made me. Broken me. Provided for my family – and generations before us. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. While there have been challenges, I believe we are privileged and want to give back to the community.”
Tanveer, 35, arrived in the UK from Bangladesh at 18 months of age and has been working in the industry since the age of 13. He travelled to master his craft before setting up at Paprika in 2016.
The father-of-three boys, who speaks five languages including Bengali, French and Arabic, said: “I travelled and learned different styles of cooking, to give me an edge. It’s about combining traditional cooking with a modern twist. If you don’t evolve and move with the times, then you will get left behind.”
The former St George School pupil who grew up in St Paul’s and Eastville, Bristol, first worked at his father’s restaurant, Jubo Raj, in Cotham Hill.
Tanveer, who qualified as a head chef aged just 21, said: “My upbringing and work has given me a bridge between two cultures and has made me who I am. I’ve worked with many chefs at restaurants across the country – from high street food to fine dining – before coming back to Bristol. I am always open to new ideas and adapting.”
But the industry has faced its share of challenges, particularly following the pandemic. Tanveer, who is also a trained audio engineer and active Badminton player said: “We’ve had difficult times but we have a strong team and loyal customers. We had closed during lockdown but then opened for collection due to demand.”
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.
And Paprika will raise money for local good causes through #AskingBristol – connecting charities with individuals, organisations and business who can support them.
Restaurants and takeaways across the country are set to take part.