MY BROTHER-IN-LAW Alan enjoys nothing better than a mega-hot curry. Phall, Vindaloo, Bangalore… bring it on. I like the more subtle approach. A Madras is about my limit, although one does occasionally sink to temptation – or stupidity – depending on how much alcohol has been consumed before we arrive at the restaurant in question.
Alan, like myself and many other curry lovers, will be delighted to hear, then, that the 18th National Curry Week will be celebrated throughout Britain from 12th to 18th October, underlining how much we, as a nation, still like a touch of spice in our lives.
Hard to believe, but the latest figures indicate that the UK’s ethnic takeaways and restaurants have suffered a small decline over the past five years, and the whole curry restaurant industry is in a panic about staffing problems caused by the present immigration laws. However, during the same time period, sales of spicy ready-meal foods and ingredients in supermarkets have soared, showing the ever-growing demand for that curry fix. Almost all of this loss was due to the decline in evening dining visits to ethnic restaurants rather than takeaways, as households continue to experience economic pressures and look to enjoying their curry fix at home, keeping restaurant visits as treats and for special occasions.
Nineteen million of us eat out at least once a week, compared with 17 million in 2013, and total all cuisine outlets will reach 337,000 by 2018 (Allegra). The main trend remains value for money. When it comes to our favourite foods, Indian (21.2%) and Chinese (20.8%) meals out are still the most popular (Living, Social UK & IE Report).
This shows that Britain still goes for that touch of spice but, unlike the past 50 years or so, they are finding other ways of getting their curry kick than ‘going out for an Indian’. Curry is no longer the sole domain of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi restaurants, with challenges from Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Caribbean and even Japanese cuisines, as well as from spicy groups such as Nandos. I recently had a Nandos in Cardiff Bay, and it was exceptionally good.
The marketplace for curry may indeed be changing, but the demand for the cuisine in Britain continues to grow, as it also does all over the world. Some 23 million people enjoy curry on a regular basis in Britain, and National Curry Week is there each year to celebrate the fact and raise much-needed monies for a range of charities.
“We welcome the cooperation of television, radio and the printed media in spreading the word to curry aficionados all over the country, and we will be giving the public as much information as possible online, (www.nationalcurryweek.org.uk), in social media and even on YouTube,” says event founder Peter Grove. “Everyone is welcome to join in the fun and frolics surrounding the event, whilst doing their bit for charity.”