iconimg Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Rohit Bhaskar, Hindustan Times
London, June 10, 2013
In the cult TV comedy Seinfeld, protagonist Jerry Seinfeld takes an immigrant Pakistani, Babu Bhat, under his wing. He tells him to remodel his classic All-American diner into a Pakistani cuisine restaurant. Long story short, the Pakistani restaurant fails to bring in any customers and Babu is deported back to his homeland.

London is a foodie’s paradise. The city has some of the most popular and celebrated restaurants in the world. Indian cuisine is also a huge hit here. You’ll find more curry-loving Englishman dig into Chicken Tikka Masala at their local pub than that old Brit favourite, Fish & Chips.

London is also home to huge Bangaldeshi immigrant population. On an evening dinner out with a few Indian scribes, one ventured into what seemed like an Indian restaurant.

The Asia House near the Earl’s Court tube station promises sumptuous Indian fare. As one stepped inside one could hear the waiters talk in a distinct vernacular, it wasn’t Punjabi or Tamil though. It was Bangla!

Demand for Indian
The hunch was confirmed when one questioned the waiters. The menu was distinctly Indian, much aligned with the menus of Indian restaurants in the city.

“Everybody here loves Indian food, they are not that aware of Bangla cuisine. We market ourselves as an Indian restaurant because that gets the customers in,” said one of the elder waiters.

One felt compelled to have a Seinfeldesque moment and urge them to remodel the restaurant into an authentic Bangladeshi restaurant.

Two things changed that thought. The memories of a deported Babu Bhat plotting his revenge against Jerry Seinfeld and the food… if you mess up a butter chicken or simpler still a raita, don’t expect any sympathy!