Spiralling prices of food items and stringent immigration rules have prompted several restaurants in the UK to drop the chicken tikka masala — dubbed as the ‘Britain’s national dish’ — from their menus.
It is not just the rising price of basmati rice that has shaken the Indian restaurant industry, tough immigration rules have also made recruitment of chefs from the Indian sub-continent difficult. Besides, prices of chicken and beef have also seen an upward trend.
Former foreign secretary Robin Cook famously announced that chicken tikka masala was so popular it had become ‘Britain’s national dish’. It has been among the most sought after dish in restaurants and ready-meals shelves in supermarkets.
Enam Ali, chairman of the Guild of Bangladeshi Restaurateurs and owner of Le Raj restaurant in Epsom Downs, Surrey, declared that he had not witnessed such a rise in food prices in the 30 years that he has been in business.
He noted that in just six weeks, the price for rice had doubled from £18 to £36, while the cost of chicken fillets had risen from £25 to £32. The cost of a range of other ingredients, including ghee and spices, had also gone up dramatically.
Besides, the new immigration rule has made the recruitment of chefs from Indian sub-continent very difficult. It is feared that nearly 16,000 Indian and Chinese restaurants will be forced to close because of shortage of chefs and a crackdown on immigration that includes raids on restaurants to nab illegal workers.
Maria Fernandes, who chairs the Ethnic Minority Citizens Forum, warned: “Restaurants in high streets will disappear as they rely on chefs coming from abroad.”