Eynsham chef named King of the Curries

Winner Mohibur Rahman, centre, with competition founder Muhammed Ali, left, and deputy lord mayor Mohammed Abbasi

Tandoori lamb with biryani

First published in News

A CHEF at a village restaurant has described his joy at being named Britain’s king of the curries.

Mohibur Rahman scooped the spicy accolade in the finals of the UK Indian Chef Awards on Tuesday and attributed his success to his love of traditional recipes.

The chef, who works at Ready Steady Spice in Eynsham, was one of five finalists at a grand cook-off at Oxford and Cherwell Valley College’s Oxpens campus.

A judging panel, which included the Oxford Mail’s curry reviewer Tim Hughes, awarded top marks to his three-course meal of prawn puri, tandoori lamb with biryani, and a dessert of sliced Indian sweets and ice cream. His starter, a tangy concoction of king prawns citrus fruits and crispy flat bread also received an award for best dish of the day.

Judges were impressed by his skilled delivery of traditional Bangladeshi recipes, rather than fancy adaptations or fusion-style dishes.

Second prize went to Nazrul Islam of Malikas in Cowley Road, Oxford; while third prize to Soydul Islam from Anica in Bicester. Akthar Hussain, from Cinnamons in Wheatley, received a runners’ up award. A special hygiene award was presented to Kaysar Ahmed, of the Zeera restaurant in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire.

The finalists had been whittled down from 27 initial entrants from around the country during a series of heats.

Mr Rahman, 42, who lives in Herschel Crescent, Littlemore, but is originally from the Bangladeshi village of Bagmoyna, was delighted. He said: “I have entered this competition for the past two years and had a good idea of what to cook. I went for a traditional menu rather than a fusion dish like some of the other chefs.

“I’m very happy. It’s the first time I’ve won anything and it’s a great honour. The other competitors were very good – I know them all.”

He can now go on to represent Britain in the International Indian Chef of the Year Competition in Bangladesh.

Competition founder Muhammed Ali, who owns the Spice Guru in Watlington, is a former International Indian Chef of the Year Competition winner. He praised all the competitors. He said: “It was a very high standard, but on the day the best man won.”

Head judge Mark Roberts, the college’s programme manager, said: “We were looking for skills in preparation, use of spice and flavour, presentation and hygiene.

“This was a difficult environment for any chef to work in. They were all out of their comfort zone but did it well and we saw some beautiful food. The judges were all in agreement as to the winner.”

College principal Sally Dicketts presented the winners’ trophies alongside deputy lord mayor Mohammed Abbasi. She said: “For people cooking European food there is great opportunity to seek recognition and accolades, so it is good to host a competition like this which gives a similar opportunity for chefs of Indian food – which we love so much in this country.”

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