The first ever Irish Curry awards took place at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast and what a night it was!  A fantastic way to recognise the contribution made to Ireland’s food scene by hundreds of Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and other Asian chefs, restaurant workers and managers.

The Awards were developed by Ali Askir who owns Safa Restaurant in Belfast- a favourite haunt of Eating Ideas.  He was keen to celebrate the best of Asian cuisine and how better to do that than through an awards ceremony?  I was invited to join the team from Love Belfast at the awards and jumped at the opportunity to attend.  Asian cuisine and a massive celebration with proceeds going to the Children’s Heartbeat Trust- who wouldn’t like that?

On arrival at the hotel, we were greeted with a Tanqueray gin reception- perfect for mingling  and meeting other guests.  We took our seats just to the side of the stage as the introductions were made.  First to take to the stage was Ali from Safa restaurant who thanked all the people involved followed by Joris Minne, Head judge of the Northern Ireland panel and Paul O’Connor, All Ireland Head Judge.  Sarah Quinlan from the chosen charity, Children’s Heartbeat Trust spoke to the 400 strong crowd about how the charity would make use of the funds raised before we were entertained by some beautiful, expressive Indian dancing.

Dinner was served and we enjoyed a resplendent feast, probably the best function meal I have been served. An appetiser of poppadoms with onion and chutney dips, entree of Chicken Tikka, marinaded in yoghurt and spices, a main Lamb bhuna with fresh onions, peppers tomatoes, ginger and garlic with sides of Pilau rice and Naanbread.  A chickpea curry was also available as the vegetarian choice.  Dessert was Gulab Jamun with mango Kulfi, a traditional deep fried sweet in syrup with mango sauce.

After tea & coffee were served, the much anticipated awards ceremony began.  The fabulous host, Pamela Ballantine announced the results which were as follows:
Best newcomer:

Ulster- Pink Garlic
Leinster- Indus spice
Munster- Saffron

Best front of house:
Ulster- Archana
Connacht- Santoori
Munster- Pepper
Leinster- Vermillion

Best young chef

Ulster- Chandpur
Munster- Pepper
Leinster- Tamarind
Connacht- Kustori

Best takeaway
Ulster- Asha
Leinster- Bombay pantry

Best restaurant
Ulster-  Bengal Brasserie Ormeau Road
Leinster- Cinnamon Garden
Munster- Planet Spice

Best chef
Ulster- Indian Ocean
Leinster- Indie Spice
Munster- Bollywood Temple
Connaught -Nokshi Indian

Huge congratulations to all the winners and the organisers for a fantastic night.  I’m already looking forward to next year’s awards!


A fantastic night at The Irish Curry Awards
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