Take-away wins silver award

A local take-away scored a major success at the inaugural Irish Curry Awards, in association with Cobra Beer, which took place this week at the Ramada Plaza, Shaw’s Bridge, and celebrated the best restaurants and curries on the island of Ireland.

Masala Hut in Moira were awarded the silver award in the Best Young Chef category in the Ulster section of the competition divided across the four provinces of Ireland.

An estimated 500 curry houses operate successfully between Ballyferriter in Kerry and Ballycastle in Antrim. These awards were created by Belfast-based restaurateur Askir Ali to recognise the contribution made to Ireland’s food scene by hundreds of Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and other Asian chefs, restaurant workers and managers.

Mr Ali said: “Curry may have been born in India, but it has grown and matured across Ireland. The Irish Curry Awards are recognition of that.

“The nomination process for Irish Curry Awards invited members of the public to nominate their favourite local curry restaurants.

“In this, the inaugural year of the awards, there were 60,000 public nominations received with a total of over 200 restaurants being nominated.

“The standard was extremely high and we had in place a broad mix of judges and food critics who’s score after reviewing each of the shortlisted venues, combined with the public vote, determined the winners.”

Commenting on the calibre of entries and judging process, head judge for Northern Ireland, Joris Minne, said: “These all-Ireland awards have been a great start to a campaign which is about acknowledging the curry restaurant sector and what better time to do this than during the NI Year of Food & Drink 2016.

“Irish people love curry as much as anyone else and the fact that the quality of the sector is now viewed as on par with the best of European and Irish cooking, is a tribute to the Asian community which is integrated here. And integration is the crucial word here when some would criticise the sector for not providing authentic Asian food.”