How Britain's immigration policy is killing 'curry'

Millions of spice lovers in London, and figures suggest it's 2.5 million customers a week, who flock to Indian restaurants to relish 'curry', may have to return disappointed the next time they pay a visit.

Thanks to the British government's immigration policy of capping the number of foreigners migrating to Britain and the new minimum-wage rules for non-European residents, Indian restaurant owners are being forced to hire unskilled workers from the UK or European Union rather than bring in trained chefs from the sub-continent.

The European chefs, naturally clueless about the spices and the method of preparing the curry, are leaving the Europeans unhappy.

A file photo of a chef preparing a curry dish in an Indian restaurant on Brick Lane in London. Carl de Souza/AFP

As a result, several Indian, Bangladeshi, Chinese and Thai restaurants have been forced to close down resulting in a curry crisis in Britain. quoted the founder of the British Curry Awards, Enam Ali, as saying: "When our British customers go out for a curry meal, they want the full cultural experience. They want to have confidence that the people in the kitchen know what they're doing and that the people serving them are fully conversant with all the dishes on the menu.

"Most Europeans don't have a clue about the spices we use or the way we prepare dishes."

Ali said that the immigration laws were hindering the growth prospects of restaurants. "Our industry will this year have thousands of job vacancies that it will be unable to fill from the domestic or European labour market. At best that jeopardises any expansion plans individual restaurants may have had. At worst — and I fear this will be the more common scenario — it threatens their whole business," he said.

In fact, there's been so much chatter about the £3.6 billion curry industry in Britain facing a crisis, with locals worrying about the future of their favourite dish, that it's become a raging topic of discussion in the local newspapers.

Facing the heat, the government is trying to solve the problem by setting up five “centers of excellence in Asian and Oriental cookery”, reports Washington Times. It hopes these cooking schools, scheduled to open in June, also will tackle rising youth unemployment by teaching jobless young Britons the art of making curry.

Recruits to the “curry colleges” will be trained in food safety and customer service before they are offered restaurant apprenticeships.

However, some think it won’t solve the problem in the short term. An Indian chef's knowledge of his spices and method of preparation is bound to make that chicken tikka masala yummier than a European labouring to get it right.

Updated Date: Apr 25, 2012 15:57 PM

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