A pinch of cardamom, a little coriander and a smattering of cinnamon - all ingredients not just in a great British curry but in a political row that's been bubbling up in the kitchens of Indian restaurants up and down the country.

It begins with a question - where is the next generation of curry chefs going to come from - and ends in with another - would leaving the EU save your local Indian from closing?

Currently two or three curry restaurants are shutting every week.

Now, you may think you know the answer to where Indian chefs come from. If so think again.

For decades your "Indian" - whether a chicken tikka masala or late night vindaloo - was almost certainly cooked by a chef from Bangladesh or, perhaps, someone whose father was.

Not any more though. The voices you hear in a growing number of kitchens above the noise of the chopping and the sizzling are the voices of East Europeans - in particular Romanians.

The reason is that tougher immigration rules mean it simply costs too much for most restaurants to bring new chefs over here.

 

A decade or so ago a curry chef would earn around £15,000 a year. Now, a restaurant has to pay almost double that as well as jumping a series of complex bureaucratic hurdles to persuade the Home Office to allow them to bring in a chef from abroad.

 

"Abroad" means, of course, not from outside the UK but outside the EU.

Inside the kitchen of Le Raj in Epsom

Pasha Khandakar, the president of the Bangladesh Caterers Association, told me that this was an "immigration double standard".

"We've been told by British ministers to import European Union people," he said, pointing to a "language problem, a culture problem and a smell problem." He contends that Eastern European workers dislike the smell of curries.

"We have to give chance for everyone in this world who's fit for these jobs - not for their colour, not for their geographical identity."

'Save the curry industry'

"Why should it be easier and cheaper to hire a Romanian to work in a curry house than a Bangladeshi?" many British Asians ask.

 

Why, indeed, should it be so easy for Eastern Europeans to bring their families to live with them when it is now so much harder than it once was for the families of British people with Commonwealth roots to do the same?

A curry meal

It is the widespread feeling that immigration rules now discriminate against them and their families which Brexit campaigners have sought to tap into.

Indeed, the employment minister and prominent Leave campaigner, Priti Patel, has claimed that a vote to quit the EU is the only way to save the curry industry.

That depends on a very big assumption. That following Brexit the British public would become so relaxed about immigration that politicians felt able to relax the immigration rules that stop low paid and low skilled workers coming here from elsewhere.

At Le Raj in Epsom - an upmarket restaurant in Surrey which is a favourite of Chris Tarrant and Heston Blumenthal - that's not how they see things.

The head chef here is a Bangladeshi. Recently he's had to brush up on his language skills - to learn not English but Romanian.

 

His kitchen is manned now by people who had never smelt a curry never mind cooked one before coming to work under his tutelage.

FOOD ALLERGY WARNING

Restaurant & Takeaway must follow the rules as it's by law and EU law changed from 13th Dec 2014. 

Read more: FOOD ALLERGY WARNING & EU FOOD LABELLING LAW

PRESS RELEASE

<p style="margin: 0px; font-size: 12px; font-family: Arial; -webkit-text-stroke-color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke-width: initial;">Source : <a href="/images/uploads/press release-hindustan times.pdf" target="_self">Press Release: The Bangladeshi Caterers Association (BCA) Condemns the Hindustan Times for its Article ' Why does Indian food not get the respect it deserves?' Publishes 14th May 2016</a></p>

 

Bangladeshi curry house bosses call on voters to back Brexit to save thousands of restaurants from closing 

  • ·         Up to five restaurants are closing every week due to Britain's 'biased' immigration policy 
  • ·         President of Bangladesh Caterers Association slams 'double standards'
  • ·         He says EU's freedom of movement rules had led to UK having to introduce crippling limits on non-EU workers
  • ·         This has made it much harder for curry businesses to recruit skilled chefs 
  • ·         UK must quit EU so it did not have to discriminate against non-EU migrants

 

 

Calling for voters to back Brexit to help save Britain's curry industry, Ms Patel said: 'Uncontrolled immigration from the EU has led to tougher controls on migrants from the rest of the world.

Britain should leave the EU to save thousands of Bangladeshi curry houses from closing, industry bosses said today.

up to five restaurants are closing every week due to the UK's biased immigration policy that puts strict rules on businesses wanting to employ migrants from outside the European Union.

Pasha Khandaker, President of the Bangladesh Caterers Association (BCA), said the EUs freedom of movement

rules had led to the UK Government introducing cripping limits on non-EU workers, which had made it much harder for

curry businesses to recruit skilled chefs

 

Up to five restaurants are closing every week due to the UK's 'biased' immigration policy that puts strict rules on businesses wanting to employ migrants from outside the European Union

 

He said Britain must leave the EU so it did not have to discriminate against non-EU migrants.

Mr Khandaker also slammed the 'double standards' in the UK's immigration policy where 'JP Morgan can bring in skilled people from outside [the EU] but not small businesses. 


Other Bangladeshi restaurant owners criticised crippling EU red tape, such as restrictions in providing takeaway services. 

Employment minister Priti Patel, one of the leading Brexit campaigners, is planning a 'Save the British Curry Day' next month to highlight the strain the EU is putting on the industry. 

The EU's freedom of movement rules allow 500 million European citizens to move freely to find work across the 28 member states. 


Employment minister Priti Patel (pictured) one of the leading Brexit campaigners, is planning a 'Save the British Curry Day' next month to highlight the strain the EU is putting on the industry.


With more than 300,000 more migrants coming to the UK than the number of people leaving, the UK Government has been forced to put controls on non-EU migrants. 


Higher minimum salary thresholds and strict criteria on who businesses can employ have been introduced. 

The minimum salary that a non-EU migrant has to earn has nearly doubled - from £17,000 to at least £30,000 - placing crippling costs on curry houses struggling to absorb the extra costs. 

Mr Khandaker said Britain must leave the EU to reduce the need for immigration controls on skilled migrants from outside the EU. 

He told the Today programme: 'We've been told by the British ministers to employ European Union peoples but the European Union peoples – we welcome them, especially we've got some people who are interested to work from Romania and Bulgaria.

'But they've never stayed, I don't blame them. There's a language problem, cultural problem and mainly the smell problem for them is bad – they can't stand the curry smell.

'So where can I get these people from? If JP Morgan can bring in skilled people from outside, or big brother's can do it, why not for the small business? Why's there double standards in the immigration policy?

He added: 'We should leave the European Union because [it] is creating many pressures – especially for the migration, we could have a better migration, better skilled people from abroad [and] we have to give a chance to everybody in this world who is fit for the job [and] not for their colour, not for their geographical identify.'   

Calling for voters to back Brexit to help save Britain's curry industry, Ms Patel said: 'Uncontrolled immigration from the EU has led to tougher controls on migrants from the rest of the world.

'This means that we cannot bring in the talents and the skills we need to support our economy. 

'By voting to leave we can take back control of our immigration policies, save our curry houses and join the rest of the world.'



The present Pasha-Munim committee has again retained the leadership of Bangladesh Caterers Association, the organisation which represents the Bangladeshi restaurateurs in the UK. The panel was elected without any contestants. The newly elected committee emphasised that they will continue their hard work towards the alleviation of struggles and problems that the curry industry is facing now.

Election Commissioner Mahmud Hasan MBE declared the 103 members committee officially on Sunday 25 January. The speakers said that BCA was highly active in order to bring more development and reduce problems suffered by the curry industry. To solve current crisis, BCA has been working with All Party Parliamentary Groups in House of Commons and continuing their lobbying to reduce VAT, working with Home Office to stop immigration raids during peak hours. Pasha Khandaker, the newly elected president insisted that the organisation will continue their hard work in coming years.

He also urged the restaurant owner to fix an acceptable price for their dishes. General Secretary M A Munim expressed his sincere gratitude to all members and emphasised the importance of solidarity of this organisation. The newly elected leadership included President Nur-Ur Rahman Pasha Khandaker (Pasha), General Secretary M A Munim, Chief Treasurer Abdul Malik and Joint Cheif Treasurers Mitu Chowdhury and Siraz Uddin Ahmed.

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