CURRY HOUSE : WHY, AM I A PROUD OWNER
by Imran Chowdhury
Curry houses in the United Kingdom is the trademark signature traits of the sprawling Bangladeshi Bengali Community. The architects of this business have been very successful in making this CURRY a lifestyle dish for the British nation. It has come a long way away from it’s rudimentary humble beginning in the mid-fifties of the 20th century.
From it’s submissive beginning to date the curry houses in the UK encompasses the length and the breadth of the whole of the British isles. From Land End to South End, from Fort William to Balham, from Bournemouth to Yarmouth , from Glasgow to Walthamstow - there is not a single city, town or village which is not enriched and glorified with the presence of a Bangladeshi Bengali owned curry house. There are hardly any high street or shopping parade in the whole of the country where there is no Curry House. This all by it itself is the greatest of all achievements to say the least.
This has all been achievable due to the perseverance and resilience of the community itself and continuous support of the British public whose passion for a balanced cuisine grew from strength to strength over the years and continuing.
‘’Chicken Tikka Masala’’ the best dish ; a national dish of the British nation - what a mammoth accolade for an immigrant community who migrated to the UK predominantly from the backwaters of North Eastern Part of Bengal delta in the mid-fifties following the disastrous second world war.
As one of my Chakma friend from the royal houses of chakma RAJ once told me, Bengalis are the best entrepreneurs - They can make businesses from the most precarious of living, who don’t want to serve any one. Everyone wants to be their own boss. Which drove the community to stand tall in the British society ; it did not come cheap and smoothly. Those maverick entrepreneurs faced mammoth impediments of racism, abuses and social exclusion yet nothing fazed them, when the going got tough these tough vanguard entrepreneurs got going with more zeal and enthusiasm.
With little education and little knowledge of oral english they have weathered through all odds to achieve their inner urge to establish a business and created a business model for all the other immigrant communities to follow suit. The doyens of the industry’s fourth generations are now managing and owning many of those outlets and riding the waves with their head held high to the podium of success.
Today, the curry houses serve in excess of half a million of Chicken Tikka Masala per week and from it’s thousands of outlets of the business are generating more than 150,000 employment , turning Billions of Pound Sterling ; no wonder all the supermarkets are cueing up to have a bite on that cherry by introducing Indian take away ranges ; it is an eye watering bone of contention for them and a mountainous success story for The Bengalis. The community has made the nation of Bengalis proud by ascending those stairs of success.
The Bengalis community owned eateries and food business ventures are an ideal example of community Espirit de corps - one would be surprised to learn an inner secret of their success; because by and large 75-80% of these thriving businesses are owned under an umbrella of co operative ownership to pull expertise hands and resources not in terms of finances only but skilled workforce. Which itself is an exemplary bond of community cohesion and camaraderie.
Up and down the country perhaps the Bengali owned restaurant are the only restaurant community who are so ingrained in the local mainstream community - in social welfare, charity fund raising, supporting local sports teams, sponsoring events and engaged in all types philanthropic activities. There are hundreds of local politicians, councilors, mainstream politicians, donors and supporters of major political parties of the land came from the Bengali diaspora.
The Curry houses are the one of the major fund raisers for charities and good causes. There is not a single week goes by when there is no fund raising taking place in those establishments. It just goes to show what kind of involvement the business owners have in their respective communities. Hundred of millions of pounds are raised over the years and it’s continuing.
In the mist of these obesity,slap up & fry up meals climax that the British nation is facing at the moment — the Curry business is the only food business who have not fallen prey into the hands of these unhealthy practices - Up and down the country all meals and dishes and curries served to the customers at any given time are predominantly cooked on order from the scratch. These are cooked as per stringent quality control practices, healthy cooking methodology inherited from back home practiced in their homeland for thousands of year, cooked with right temperature and no MSG or Additives used at all and no indulgence of deep fryers. All of Which makes the Curry a unique cuisine of satisfaction.
Glories, accolades and exuberance of exclamation for these Curry House owners need to official recognition. It speaks for itself — the proof is in the pudding . All one has to do it go and kindly have a tour around the Greater SYLHET district of Bangladesh. How these Philanthropic entrepreneurs have turned that low-lying marshy and slushy land into a thriving cosmopolitan. Hundreds of millions of Pound sterling has been poured in the area to make that sleepy region into one of the most aspirational enclave of Bangladesh - a start contrast from the rest of the landscape of the country.
Palatial homes, hundreds of schools, roads, modern charitable hospitals, clinics, poverty alleviation schemes — projects and research installations are managed, funded and owned by these curry house owners — which perhaps are the Biggest of all Achievements. A small step of an Individual businessman has turned into a collective of giant leap for the millions of People of the Region.
No wonder all of those give me an immense pleasure to be a
Proud owner of a CURRY HOUSE !