At this year’s star-studded “curry Oscars”, Mayfair’s Benares and Shampan Bromley, so-called for its neighbourhood, have been named as the two top spots for a curry inside the M25.
The British Curry Awards, which were celebrated on Monday night at Evolution London in Battersea, saw restaurateurs from across the country attend for what is considered one of the most prestigious nights in the UK’s culinary calendar.
Now in its 17th year, the evening marked the first in-person awards since 2019, with last year’s ceremony a virtual edition asa concession to the pandemic. This year’s celebrations were presented by comic Omid Djalili, with guests reportedly including cricketer Azeem Rafiq — who has been at the centre of the recent racism-in-cricket storm — as well as MP Chris Grayling and Love Island’s Priya Gopaldas.
The long-standing Benares, which at the start of this year regained its Michelin star, was named at the best restaurant in central London. The privately-owned venture is lead by head chef Sameer Taneja, who trained under Pierre Koffmann. Sitting on Berkeley Square, it is perhaps best known for its seafood, with the scallops and prawns particularly well regarded.
Shampan Bromley, which is one of three Shampan sites, picked up the award for “Best Restaurant London – Outer & Suburbs”. Since opening in 2002, the restaurant has been named as one of the top 10 restaurants in this category seven times.
There was also a London victory for Atul Kochhar’s new restaurant, Mathura. The Westminster spot, Kochhar’s second, opened in October of this year and was named as best newcomer. In a neat twist, Kochhar was formerly the chef-patron of Benares, though he stopped working with the restaurant in 2018 following a series of controversial tweets sent to the actress Priyanka Chopra.
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who recorded a message for the event, said: “I’m delighted that one of the greatest events in our gastronomic calendar, the curry Oscars, is back in action, and it’s fantastic to celebrate the genius of our curry restaurateurs who have, for decades, offered their fragrant medleys.
“Throughout the testing times of the past two years you’ve always responded with resolve and creativity, feeding our NHS heroes and dispatching fleets of mopeds to bring spice to the lives of millions of people at home.
“And now, I’m glad to say, customers are returning en masse and curry houses the length and breadth of these islands are bustling once again. More than 10,000 of them across the whole of the United Kingdom, that’s 200 hundred for every city. Never forget, more in London than in Mumbai.
“And since the British Curry Awards are now in their 17th year with a record number of nominations, we’re not just building back better, we’re building back balti.
“I want to thank you all, restaurateurs, chefs and waiters for blessing us with your flavoursome morsels. And congratulations to all the nominees and of course to the prize winners for your achievements, and have a great evening.”
The full list of winners is below:
Best Restaurant London Central & City: Benares, Mayfair
Best Restaurant London – Outer & Suburbs: Shampan Bromley, Bromley
Best Newcomer: Mathura, Westminster
Best Restaurant South East: Chez Mumtaz, St Albans
Best Restaurant South West: Prithvi Restaurant, Cheltenham
Best Restaurant Scotland: Dishoom, Edinburgh
Best Restaurant North East: Mumtaz Restaurant, Bradford
Best Restaurant North West: Asha’s, Manchester
Best Restaurant East Midlands: Montaz Newmarket, Newmarket
Best Restaurant West Midlands: Pushkar Restaurant, Birmingham
Best Restaurant Wales: Purple Poppadom, Cardiff
Best Delivery Restaurant/Takeaway: Maliks Express Kitchen, Gerrards Cross
Most Innovative Restaurant Concept: Khai Khai Indian Restaurant, Newcastle
Enam Ali MBE, the founder of the awards, said on the evening: “What a year we have had – full of highs and lows as we have come out of the pandemic and had to try and rebuild our businesses after lockdowns. The support of our customers has been incredible but the challenges are still significant.
“At the British Curry Awards we have always stood up for the causes that matter to the industry. We are all now benefitting from the so-called vindaloo visa which has helped address the chef shortage problem. We will always fight your corner. And the Government does listen to us.”
For more information, visit britishcurryawards.org