Thursday, 19 April 2018

Nepali chef serves Midlothian a Scottish curry king double

A 53 year old Nepali from Midlothian has been voted Scotland’s Curry Chef of the Year.

Ashok Ram, who commands the kitchen at the 120 cover Indian-Bangladeshi restaurant Radhuni in Loanhead’s Clerk Street, took the title at the Scottish Curry Awards gala dinner at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Glasgow.

Trained by Matin Khan, Chief Executive and Executive Head Chef of Radhuni and its sister restaurant Itihaas in nearby Dalkeith, he was named UK Bangladeshi Chef of the Year in 2012 after live demonstrations by finalists in London. In his latest accolade he is following in the footsteps of Matin Khan who was voted Curry Chef of the Year in Scotland in 2014.

Radhuni and Itihaas were also shortlisted in the Best Restaurant in the Edinburgh area and South East Scotland respectively.

“Cooking can be described as a work of art where spices and flavours are a form of expression,” Ashok commented. “I’m delighted that the work of myself and the Radhuni team has been recognised. We try to make each dish a unique experience for the customer.”

Radhuni, whose name means ‘passionate cook’ in Bengali, opened in 2011 as Loanhead’s first Indian-style restaurant. 

Matin’s son Habibur, who manages Radhuni, said: “Ashok’s success in being named Scotland’s top curry chef is an honour for the restaurant and a tribute to the loyalty and dedication of the entire team.”

Why did he think Radhuni had triumphed? “Indian and Bangladeshi food continues to evolve,” he replied. “Ashok and his colleagues have adapted to trends and kept learning more about spices and modern styles of cooking while using only the best and most authentic ingredients.”

He added that the success had been achieved despite tough UK immigration laws which make it difficult for restaurants to obtain entry visas for chefs from the Indian sub-continent.

“In putting up these barriers, including stipulating an unreasonable minimum starting salary for a chef, the UK Government is shabbily treating an industry worth more than £4 billion to the country’s economy each year.” Habibur said. “At Radhuni and Itihaas we’re unusual in having managed to keep our team intact but around the UK many restaurants are closing or reducing the number of days they open.”

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