Asian Women and the Curry Industry; New Beginnings

The English Curry Awards 2019 are coming into their 9th year. The awards showcase the strength, devotion, service and tasty food provided by the best curry houses in the industry across England. They are one of our most exciting events that honor those who work their hardest to perfect every meal and provide the best possible dining experience to every guest.

The Curry awards are known for being fun, feisty and fabulous; they are the jewel in our events crown, widely anticipated each year. Curry is a much-loved facet of British identity, holding the title ‘The Nations Favourite Dish’ and is credited historically for bridging the gap between cultures and bringing communities together.

Not to forget, it tastes bloody brilliant.

Now all that being said, the curry industry itself is not a garden of roses and is not above criticism.

Ask any South-Asian Brit across any city who cooks the best food they’ve tasted; we can almost guarantee the answer will be their mum 99% of the time. South-Asian women are wonderfully skilled in the kitchen – they make some of the best food enjoyed by extended Asian families and a mix of communities at every birthday, religious festival, wedding and funeral among other events. They are undeniably talented in the kitchen and their food is loved by all – so why are they not earning money from their skills?

Well for starters; the curry industry is a boys-club.

It’s owned by men, it’s run by men, it recruits men and is set up for men.

And it’s facing some tricky challenges.

Restaurant closures are currently a huge problem for the curry industry, with experts relating the problem to strict immigration rules, stopping top chefs being recruited from abroad. Additionally, employment rates for Pakistani and Bengali women are some of the lowest across any group in the country and their inactivity rates are the highest according to research carried out by the Joseph Roundtree Foundation. It’s seems clear that curry-house kitchens could be a great place for women to use their skills, build their confidence, gain the experience needed to potentially run their own businesses and cook banging curries for everyone to enjoy!

While recruiting women into the curry industry cannot be seen as a quick-fix to a complex multi-faceted problem, it could be a step in the right direction to tackling restaurant closures and the employability issue facing South-Asian women. Restaurants and takeaways need to ensure they create safe spaces for women to grow & thrive and there needs to be a cultural shift in the way restaurants are viewed as a route to female employability. If done correctly, 10 years from now we could be served the best, freshest, hottest curry by an army of happy women from buzzing curry houses around every street corner.

This sounds like a beautiful reality to us and we’re committed to help see it happen. We’ll be launching a campaign a 2020 campaign ‘Queens in Curry Kitchens’ at this year’s awards with an exciting partner. Come along to the awards or stay tuned on social media for more.