Judging Curry

Sanjay Singh, a chef at Burscough restaurant Bombay Brasseries, is excited about having qualified for the British National Curry Award, in which chefs from all over the country will take part. The award is designed to give Indian chefs recognition for their skills. On Monday, Sanjay prepared his favourite dish King Prawn Tikka Ginger for a jury of organiser Adnam Mallick, Amy Salters from The Advertiser newspaper, a work experience student at The Advertiser and myself, sent by the Champion newspapers, to qualify.

“He has been recommended by so many customers that I had to come and try it for myself”, says organiser Adnam Mallick. Sanjay, who used to work at ITC Maurya Sheraton in India before settling in the UK eight years ago already cooked for Bill Clinton and his family during a stay in New Delhi. “Chelsea Clinton liked the King Prawns so much that the meal was renamed ‘Chelsea Platter’ in her honour”, Sanjay explains. One year ago, Sanjay moved to Burscough. "I'm interested in serving good food and giving good service. It doesn't matter where I am to do that", he explains.

Out of 200 qualifying chefs, the best 20 will go to London to prepare their signature dish in front of judges and TV cameras. “I’ve prepared this dish thousands of times. My bigger worry are the TV cameras”, Sanjay laughs. "I've never been on TV before!"

“The meals have to be as authentic as possible, and we also judge the spices and raw materials used, as well as hygiene in the kitchen, food preparation and service. In every round of the competition, the chefs have to prepare a different dish”, Adnam Mallick explains the judging procedure. Sanjay's strength is his use of spices. "I don't buy ready packed spices. I buy them fresh and grind them myself. I only prepare as much as I need per day!" The freshness can even be tasted in his meals.

Only three chefs in Lancashire had been recommended by their customers. Getting the best feedback from his customers, Sanjay was chosen to participate. “Winning the award would really put Burscough on the culinary map”, adds Mallick. His colleagues at Bombay Brasseries wish the father-of-one good luck for the next round.

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