Leicester is Britain's Curry Capital
The people of Leicester knew it all along, but after years of trying, the east Midlands town with a large minority of Indian origin has just been officially declared the 'Curry Capital of Britain' - a tribute to its delicious, palate-tingling tradition of Indian cuisine.
The city beat 16 rivals to the crown that, in the past, meant as much as a £1.5 million boost to local tourism. This is the seventh year the event has been held - previous winners have been Glasgow (three times), Bradford and Birmingham.
Local officials in Leicester said the bid was supported by a combination of good food and a vibrant atmosphere created by the £4 billion of regeneration in the city. Delighted Indian restaurant owners and tourism officials said the win was deserved and would help lure more visitors to Leicestershire.
Peter Grove, organizer of the event and editor of Menu Magazine, said: "The standard of restaurants in every city was so high this year that the judges had to look for that something extra to make the difference.
"With all that is happening within the city, we felt it was the deserving winner."
An undercover team of 13 tasters judged five Indian restaurants in Leicester: The Curry House, T and K Balti House, Ek Maya, Spice House, Little India Restaurant. Other contenders for the title this year were Glasgow and Birmingham, which also have large minorities of Indian origin.
Syed Rahman, owner of Little India restaurant, said: "I can't believe that it has taken this long to be recognised for having the best curries in the UK. If you look across the whole of Leicestershire there is a great diversity of cooking and our customers have been saying for years how good the food here is compared to other cities."
Nisar Kolia, owner of The Curry House, said: "This is brilliant news. That we have the best food across the UK has finally been recognised." Abu Taher, owner of T and K Balti House, said: "It's about time we won this award. I have no doubt we will attract more visitors to Leicester because of this."
Grove said that Glasgow, Bradford, Manchester and Leicester were all awarded 80 points each, but Leicester emerged victorious. He said: "It was a very close call but we were very impressed by Leicester's bid, especially the DVD by Leicester Shire Promotions , Ek Maya".
Leicester's bid was backed up by a DVD produced by Leicester Shire Promotions (LSP). Martin Peters, chief executive of LSP, said: "We are proud to have won as food and drink is a very important part of tourism.
Anything that brings more visitors to the area is a good thing."