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WORLD CURRY FEST: Gastro Diplomacy from the UK to Malaysia

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World Curry Festival

Exporting the British curry to South East Asia creating a tastebud-popping sensation in Malaysia

In its first foray overseas, the World Curry Festival received a rapturous welcome in Malaysia as it premiered at the 6th Penang International Halal Expo and Conference (PIHEC).

The three-day conference, featured at the aptly named Spice Arena, saw the World Curry Festival bring its international chefs, from the UK, India, Pakistan as well as Malaysia, who dazzled the audiences with a focus on the ‘Great British Curry’.

The highlight of the trip saw the World Curry Festival host an exclusive gala dinner in Penang for heads of state, international diplomats and dignitaries from across the region.

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The ‘Gastro Diplomacy’ World Curry Festival Gala Dinner took place on Friday 30th January in the grand ballroom of the famous Eastern & Oriental hotel, on Penang Island, the latter was once named ‘Prince of Wales Island’ after it was discovered by Sir Frances Light.

The Eastern & Oriental hotel proved a fantastic choice of venue with guests being spoilt by an amazing menu in a backdrop full of heritage and splendour.

The dinner was attended by heads of state, Her Excellency, Victoria Treadell – British High Commissioner to Malaysia, and His Excellency Syed Hassan Raza – the Pakistani High Commissioner to Malaysia, and diplomats from Japan, Belgium, Indonesia and Pakistan.

Numerous dignitaries from across the region also attended including: His Excellency Tun Dato’ Seri Utama (Dr) Haji Abdul Rahman Bin Haji Abbas – the Governor of Penang; Lim Guan Eng – the Chief Minister of Penang; Dr Ong Hong Peng – Secretary General for Ministry of Tourism and Culture in Malaysia; and Haji Abdul Malik Kassim – the State Minister for Religious Affairs, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs.


The British-themed menu – designed by the founder of the World Curry Festival, Zulfi Karim, comprised of a combination of Raj-inspired dishes such as ‘mulligatawny soup’ and ‘kedgeree’ as well as more modern day favourites, such as ‘chicken tikka masala’ and ‘lamb vindaloo’.

Bradford man, and founder of the World Curry Festival, Zulfi Karim, explains why he decided to export the British curry to South East Asia.

“The premise of the World Curry Festival Malaysia was to form global links with British colonial connections, while promoting the global phenomenon that curry is,” he said.


“South East Asia is becoming ever popular with travellers and foodies, who flock to see the beautiful sights and taste the wonderful food flavours.

“Countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia are particularly famous for their street food, and are proving very popular with foodies and professional chefs alike.

“Penang is well established as a centre for food, so it seemed fitting to take the festival there on our first overseas venture.”

World Curry Festival


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Bradford man takes ‘World Curry Festival’ to international heights

FAMOUS: World renowed Chef Hermant  Oberoi is one of the celebrity chefs

FAMOUS: World renowed Chef Hermant Oberoi is one of the celebrity chefs

Many have earned esteem for exporting sand to Arabia, but how many have taken curry to Asia?

This year the World Curry Festival founded in Bradford - the city which holds the title ‘Curry Capital of Britain’, will be doing just that when it transports some of it finest curry chefs and recipes to Malaysia.

The World Curry Festival is set to premiere at the 6th Penang International Halal Expo and Conference between 30th January and 1st February 2015.

Penang, an island situated on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia, is famous as a centre for food, and historically known as ‘The Pearl of Orient’.
As part of the event, the World Curry Festival will also be hosting an exclusive gala dinner at the Eastern Oriental Hotel in George Town – a UNESCO world heritage site.

Dignitaries and VIPs attending the exclusive black-tie dinner include Penang’s State Governor, Chief Minister and Minister of Tourism and Culture, along with a host of international ambassadors, and representatives of the British High Commission.

Zulfi Karim, founder of the World Curry Festival, has personally designed the menu for the gala dinner.

Commenting on the theme for the evening, he said: “The World Curry Festival gala dinner in Malaysia will be dedicated to ‘gastrodiplomacy’ – a kind of ‘cultural diplomacy’.

“We first fell in love with the phrase when the World Curry Festival 2014 was officially opened by Mathew Barzun, the US Ambassador to the UK.

“Having such a high profile figure open last year’s event in Bradford inspired us to concentrate on bringing the world together through curry.

ATTENDING: Chef Norman Musa

ATTENDING: Chef Norman Musa

“This is one of the festival’s main aims, and we are delighted our first venture outside of the UK will be Malaysia.”

The World Curry Festival will be bringing a team of renowned celebrity chefs from the UK, Pakistan, India and of course Malaysia, to the Halal Expo and Conference.
The team will showcase their culinary skills in the aptly named ‘Spice Arena’ with a full programme available on
Each of the cookery demonstrations at the World Curry Festival in Malaysia will focus on the ‘Great British Curry’.

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The festival, which was originally inspired by the 200 year anniversary of the first curry house to open in the UK, is an advocate of the curry industry, and at its inaugural event in 2010, in Leeds, it recognised this important milestone.
Five years on, the festival is celebrating taking a ‘great British institution’ global and yes...‘chicken tikka masala’ will be on the menu in Malaysia.

Mr Karim comments: “The curry industry is worth £4billion to the British economy. The UK boasts some of the best curry chefs in the world alongside Michelin-starred curry restaurants and many famous curry brands.

“Taking the World Curry Festival to Malaysia is a great opportunity to do business ‘over a curry’ as well as building relations with other cultures and traditions.”

For more information about the World Curry Festival visit

World Curry Festival

British Curry Awards 2014 celebrates ten years of honouring excellence in the UK Curry Industry

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FINE FOOD: Founder of the British Curry Awards Enam Ali MBE and PM David Cameron tuck in

FINE FOOD: Founder of the British Curry Awards Enam Ali MBE and PM David Cameron tuck in.

Tenth Anniversary award ceremony pays homage to the unsung heroes behind the UK’s favourite dish

The UK’s favourite cuisine will once again be celebrated at the milestone, tenth-anniversary British Curry Awards on Monday 1st December 2014.

The industry at large, foodies, celebrities, MP’s and dignitaries will collectively pay homage to the nation’s finest curry restaurants at one of the most lauded events of the UK hospitality sector, taking place at Battersea Evolution, London.

As well as being a lucrative mainstay of the economy, the industry has embedded itself in the social, cultural and culinary fabric of the UK, with approximately 25million curries being consumed each week.

As a result, British Curry Awards, which this year celebrates its tenth anniversary, has become a key fixture on the UK social calendar, celebrating the achievements of the nation’s most popular culinary genre.

A pioneer in the UK catering and hospitality sector, British Curry Awards has been lauded as a national institution in its own right – the first and landmark event to celebrate the industry’s achievements.

The event is eagerly anticipated annually by the industry and restaurateurs alike, with winning restaurants realising lifetime dreams through being awarded.

As Prime Minister David Cameron said at the event last year: “These awards have become a fixture in our national life. They are, as I put it, the Oscars of British Curry.

“I’d like to say a big thank you to all of you who work in this great industry – 10,000 restaurants up and down our country, three and a half billion pounds worth of turnover, two and half million customers every week. I reckon that is about 31 million chutney trays, 62 million naan breads, 160 million poppadoms. As we say in Westminster, a light lunch!

“Everything this industry does, everything we're celebrating tonight, comes back to one thing, its values.

“As prime minister you get to go to quite a few industry dinners but there aren’t many where you feel quite as much pride as at this one. So from the bottom of my heart let me say thank you for everything you give to our country.”

The nomination process invites members of the public to put forward their favourite Indian eatery for a deserving accolade.

This year, a phenomenal 200,000 public nominations have been received via post, app and online, from diners nominating their favourite curry restaurants, with 2,641 restaurants being nominated.

It is stated that a curry remains the favoured choice of takeaway across the nation, overtaking stalwarts such as a Chinese or Italian. Its value is reflected by the Best Delivery Restaurant / Takeaway Award, in association with Just Eat, the online takeaway ordering service.

Each year British Curry Awards also presents the Special Recognition Award to an influential culinary personality, with past winners including Atul Kochar. Madhur Jaffrey, Cyrus Todiwala OBE, Anjum Anand, Heston Blumenthal OBE, Shelim Hussain MBE and Mohammed Aslam MBE.

The British Curry Awards was established by British entrepreneur and restaurateur Enam Ali MBE who founded the event in 2005.

He has been tirelessly promoting the British curry industry globally for the past 30 years. In speaking about the event, he says: “The industry continues to contribute a phenomenal amount to the UK economy despite the challenges it still faces in terms of staffing issues derived from immigration policy.

“But as Prime Minister David Cameron himself addressed at the event last year, he recognises the commitment that needs to be made to this lucrative industry as we collectively go from strength to strength in the face of adversity As they say, curry was born in India but has been made great in Britain.”