Mild or spicy curry? Let’s stop stereotyping people!

Regular readers of this blog will know I am currently championing healthy Indian cuisine in the face allegations that it is partly responsible for an increase in obesity across the UK.abdul-stnding2

I was interviewed earlier this month for a BBC Inside Out programme where I talked about Raval’s new takeaway service, Raval Express

I am committed to ensuring our takeaway offering is every bit as healthy and fresh as our award-winning restaurant dishes.

There are times when I feel I’m on a one man crusade to raise standards in restaurants and takeaways – although, in reality, I know I am not alone and that many restaurateurs are doing an excellent job.

However, one story that caught my eye this week certainly did not show Indian t
akeaways in a good light. It wasn’t about unhealthy food so much as unhealthy attitudes.

A takeaway in London was accused of “discriminating” against a white customer who requested a mi
ld curry.

Apparently Stuart Lynn asked for his venison curry to be “very mild” and when he received his order he says he was appalled to see the words “very mild, white ppl” written on it.

The restaurant has denied that “ppl” is an abbreviation of “people” claiming instead that it means a white sauce made from milk.

Stuart doesn’t believe them, and I’m not sure I do.Avi with BBC

But the story does raise an interesting question…since when was a mild curry something only white people requested?

Very hot and spicy curries are actually not that commonplace across the sub-continent. Lightly or medium spiced dishes are much closer to the authentic taste of India.

In fact, some of our most popular dishes here at Raval originate from southern Indian regions such as Kerala where delicately flavoured dishes are a speciality.

And in my experience, a black man is every bit as likely to request a mild curry as a white man…so let’s have no more of this stereotypical nonsense!

To be honest, I don’t know how much credence to give the story. It strikes me as a silly comment – perhaps meant as an in-joke between colleagues – that back-fired rather than a serious case of discrimination.

Nevertheless, it has only served to toughen my resolve to ensure takeaways raise their game.

Every week across the UK, two restaurants or takeaways close. There are several reasons behind their decline, not least of which is the problem of getting properly trained staff.

And by “properly trained” I’m not just talking about the ability to cook authentic Indian cuisine…it’s about customer service too.

So restaurants and takeaways do need to have a rethink. At Raval, you won’t find dishes swimming in sloppy, calorie-rich sauces or huge portions – just fresh, healthy and – above all – authentic Indian food.

And, of course, for us the customer is king. That’s why they keep coming back.

If you have outstanding (and in our case award-winning) food and excellent customer service, you really can’t go wrong.

We think that’s the way forward…and the only way to turn around our industry’s fortunes.

  • Incidentally, if you’re interested in watching the BBC’s Inside Out special report on obesity, I’m told it is scheduled to be broadcast in November. I’ll keep you posted.
Mr Raval is known to friends and customers alike as the region’s Curry King. His restaurant has been named ‘Best in the North East’ and has won critical acclaim from leading chefs and food reviewers. He is passionate about sharing his love of authentic Indian cuisine.

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