English Curry Awards 2019

Last night I attended the English Curry Awards event held at the Birmingham Conference and Events Centre. Now in its 9th year, the evening event honoured those who work their hardest to perfect every meal and provide the best possible dining experience.

English Curry Awards

English Curry Awards

It was a well organised event by Oceanic Consulting. The atmosphere was fun and buzzing, and the host Tommy Sandhu kept us entertained.

The food on the night was catered by Saffron Events UK and it did not disappoint. Everything was delicious.

Saffron Events UK

Saffron Events UK

Thank you to the team at Oceanic Consulting for inviting me to the event, I’ll love to be there again for the next one!

Below are the winners for all the different categories, some that I’ve not heard of before but will be visiting at some point for sure. Have you visited any of them? Do you agree with the winners? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Be sure to check out my highlights of the night over on my Instagram page @rahema_m

Huge congratulations to all the winners:

  • Outstanding Restaurant of the Year – Prana Indian Restaurant (Cambridge)
  • The Best of Manchester Award – Asha’s Restaurant
  • The Best of Birmingham – Pushkar Cocktail Bar and Dining
  • Best Team of the Year – Indique (Manchester)
  • Best Restaurant Design & Ambience – Taj Tandoori (Cambridge)
  • Vegetarian Restaurant of the Year – Chai Paani (Leicester)
  • Nepalese Restaurant of the Year – The Great Kathmandu Restaurant (Manchester)
  • Bangladeshi Restaurant of the Year – Little Bangla (Oldbury)
  • Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year – Navadhanya (Cambridge)
  • Street Food Restaurant of the Year – Dhaba at Fifteen (Norwich)
  • Best Customer Service – Rumi by Bukhara (Liverpool)
  • South Indian Restaurant of the Year – Tharavadu (Leeds)
  • General Manager of the Year – Heritage India (Leicester)
  • Special Recognition Award – Calcutta Club (Nottingham)
  • Pakistani Restaurant of the Year – My Lahore Cafe (Birmingham)
  • New Restaurant of the Year – Dehli 6 (South Shields)
  • Curry Entrepreneur of the Year – Sam Alhuwalia (Horley)
  • Curry Queen of the Year – Bollywood Junction (Milton Keynes)
  • Critic’s Choice Restaurant of the Year – Shikara (Whitley Bay)
  • Takeaway and Home Delivery of the Year – Chutney Express Takeaway (Birmingham)
  • Chef of the Year – The Original Third Eye (Manchester)
  • Caterer of the Year – Anu Caterers (Basingstoke)
  • Most Wanted Restaurant of the Year – Urban Tandoor (Bristol)
  • Restaurant of the Year – Spice Lounge Restaurant (Mildenhall)

British Halal Food Festival – Birmingham

I attended the first British Halal Food Festival in Birmingham yesterday and it did not disappoint! I’ve been to the London one a couple of times so was super excited that there was going to be one in my home city and didn’t want to miss out.

Whether you’re a foodie or not, it was a lovely family day out and plenty of halal food choices to choose from.

I went along with my family, there were 8 of us. 6 adults and 2 children under 11.

The actual venue (Digbeth Arena) is quite large and all the stalls were outdoors. There was a tent set up with some tables and chairs where people could eat or take shelter when it was raining for a short while in the morning! The sun did come out though and it was a beautiful day for the rest of the day.

The atmosphere was fantastic – it was busy and buzzing, which meant that some of the queues for the food stalls were quite long! But we found the food we had queued up for was all worth the wait.

There were plenty of food cuisine to choose from – Indian, Greek, Jamaican, Japanese, Portuguese, Mexican to name a few. I was expecting more sweet/dessert stalls but the ones that were there had amazing food. The churros were by far the best ones I’ve had! And I’ve eaten plenty in my time 🙈 my other favourite food there were the chips. They were so nice (obviously I wasn’t counting any calories or watching what I was eating).

There was also a henna stall by a super talented henna artist, a mocktail stall, pick & mix sweets stall and some other non food stalls too.

One criticism that I have is that the event stage in my opinion wasn’t in the right place. It was situated near popular food stalls so there was a lot of people queuing up nearby and lots of noise making it difficult to hear and even see what was going on on the stage. The benches for people to sit on were not stable, one collapsed on the floor with a pregnant lady sat on it! She was fine though, but had the stage been in an area a little away from food stalls, it would have been better.

Apart from that, it was all good! Prices were not as extortionate as we were expecting, they were set out at a reasonable level.

Overall it was a great experience that could have been enhanced with maybe some live music. However, I would still recommend visiting the next one in Birmingham.

P.S. Apologies for the quality of the photos, we were too busy enjoying the food to take better photos! Just wanted to still give you an idea of what the food looked like though.

Arroz de Marisco (seafood rice)

Arroz de Marisco (seafood rice)

Meat & Eat Beef Sandwich

Meat & Eat Beef Sandwich

Chips

Chips

Jerk Chicken with Rice & Peas

Jerk Chicken with Rice & Peas

Cheeseburger

Cheeseburger

Rainbow Cake

Rainbow Cake

Churros

Churros

Pasteis de Nata

Pasteis de Nata

Bulgur Wheat Salad

I love bulgur wheat and this is a very easy to make recipe. It is perfect for a picnic, lunchboxes or a side dish. You can add any fillings of your choice and change the herbs if you prefer. 40g of feta cheese is a healthy extra A choice, so bear that in mind when adding your cheese. As always, feel free to tag me in your creations. I love seeing my recipes recreated.

Serves: 4

Syns: FREE, when using cheese as part of your healthy extra A choice

Time Taken: 20 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Bulgur Wheat Salad

Bulgur Wheat Salad

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of bulgur wheat
  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • 1 oxo vegetable cube
  • Diced red onion
  • Diced cucumber
  • Diced pepper
  • Tin of chickpeas (drained)
  • Chilli flakes
  • Chopped fresh parsley and coriander
  • Feta cheese

Method

Put the bulgur wheat in a pan with the boiling water and crumble the oxo cube to it. Cook on a low heat, covered, until all the water has evaporated and the bulgur is cooked.

Whilst the bulgur wheat is cooking, prepare and your veg and herbs you want to add to it.

Once the bulgur is cooked, use a fork to fluff up the grains and let it cool completely before adding the veg and herbs.

Mix through some feta cheese and season to taste

Ramadan 2019 Meal Planner

I posted a poll on my Instagram today asking if people wanted to see my meal plan for this Ramadan, and the majority said yes so here it is!

I have included below my main food plan for Suhoor and Iftar.

I will open my fast every day with water and a variety of fruit – watermelon, berries, mango, grapes etc. and one date (3 syns for each Medjool date). After praying I will eat my main meal with coffee and try to drink as much water as possible (I aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water, not all in one go! This will be drunk throughout the night up until Suhoor). I don’t intend on eating a dessert, although I will be making it for my family. I will be using my syns on dates instead or within my meals and I may have a cereal bar or a chocolatey treat with a coffee.

Hope this helps those following Slimming World plan. For my Food Optimising guide through Ramadan please click here.

Ramadan 2019 Meal Planner

Ramadan 2019 Meal Planner

Ramadan Mubarak x

Fish & Coconut Curry

A really simple and easy curry to make – I normally use frozen basa fillets (I let it defrost before using). The syns in this recipe come from the coconut milk, please check the syns if you use a different brand. I get the coconut milk tins from B&M Bargains (4 for £1 – a real bargain!) and it is just the right size. Each tin is only 7 syns, divided by 3 of us works out at less than 2.5 syns per serving. I used to buy the bigger tins of coconut milk and only use half a tin and throw the rest away, so I’ve stopped doing that. This curry is lovely served with coconut rice if you don’t mind using more syns.

Serves: 3

Syns: 2.5 syns per serving

Time Taken: 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Fish & Coconut Curry

Fish & Coconut Curry

 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 200g passata
  • 1.5 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (methi)
  • 1 veg oxo cube, crumbled
  • 165ml tin Full Moon coconut milk
  • Firm white fish fillets

Method

Spray a pan with plenty of syn free spray oil and cook the onion till lightly golden. Add hot water if the onion starts to stick to the pan.

Add the chopped garlic and fry for another couple of minutes. Add the fenugreek leaves, curry powder, crumbled up oxo cube and passata and cook the spices down for about 10 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and the fish fillets and cook on a gentle heat. Try not to stir the fish too much or you’ll end up with broken pieces. Instead, gently shake the pan when you need to.

Served with boiled basmati rice and a speedy salad.

Banana & Date Smoothie

I know a lot of people usually struggle to eat Suhoor (pre dawn meal during Ramadan) so here is a recipe that although is quite high in syns. it is still within the recommended daily syns allowance. I like to use unsweetened almond milk for this recipe for a nutty flavour but you can use any other milk of your choice. Just remember to check what the health extra allowance is for the milk you’re using. Top tip: try to use the ripest banana you have as this will make the smoothie even sweeter without having to add any extra syns for sweetening the smoothie.

Banana & Date Smoothie

Banana & Date Smoothie

 

Serves: 1

Syns: 13 syns plus part of healthy extra A choice

Time Taken: 5 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe banana, chopped
  • 3 Medjool dates
  • 200ml unsweetened almond milk
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon

Method

Remove the pit from the dates and mix all the ingredients together. Serve immediately.

Cajun Chicken & Orzo

A simple dish ready in minutes and it is great cold too. This is lovely topped with some feta cheese as part of your healthy extra A choice. I topped mine with green chillies and cherry tomatoes.

Cajun Chicken & Orzo

Cajun Chicken & Orzo

 

Serves: 2

Syns: FREE

Time Taken: 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast, diced in small pieces
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • 3 tbsp. tomato puree
  • Fresh parsley and coriander to taste, chopped
  • seasoning to taste
  • 250g orzo pasta

Method

Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water for around 9 minutes. Once cooked, drain the water (reserving some for later) and cool the pasta under cold water to stop it from sticking together whilst you cook the chicken.

Spray a pan with plenty of syn free spray oil of your choice and cook the onions for around 5 minutes till they start to golden. Add a little hot water if the onions start to stick to the pan. Add the garlic and the carrot and mix well. Cook until the carrot has softened slightly.

Add the diced chicken, Cajun seasoning, paprika, seasoning and chilli flakes (if using). Mix the chicken with the spices well.

Add the tomato puree, mix and let the chicken cook for around 15 minutes (cook for longer if your chicken pieces are bigger). Add some of the reserved water from the pasta to the chicken to stop it from drying out. Add the peppers in the last couple of minutes of cooking together with the parsley and coriander. Cook for another couple of minutes before adding the cooked pasta and mix it all well together.

Cinnamon French toast

Fancied something different for breakfast this morning so decided to make some French toast, all syn free when you use the bread as part of your healthy extra B choice and the milk as part of your healthy extra A choice. I topped it with fresh berries but you can use anything you like – jam, fromage frais, honey etc. just remember to keep track of the syns you add. Enjoy x

Serves: 1

Syns: FREE, using healthy extra choices

Time Taken: 15 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Cinnamon French Toast

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of wholemeal bread (from a 400g loaf)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tbsp sweetener
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

French toast ingredients

Method

Beat the eggs with the milk, sweetener and ground cinnamon.

Place a slice of bread in a shallow plate and pour half the egg mixture to it. Let it soak for a minute and then turn it around to soak the other side. Repeat for the other slice.

Spray low cal cooking spray oil to a frying pan and cook each slice of bread at a time for around 2-3 minutes on each side.

Serve with fresh fruit or any other toppings of your choice.

Piri Piri Chicken

This piri piri marinade can be used with fish, meat or even cheeses such as haloumi or paneer. We like to serve this with chips and salad but if you prefer rice instead, have a look through my previous recipe here. I usually leave the chicken pieces to marinade for a few hours before cooking, but if you don’t have much time, leave it to marinade for at least 30 minutes.

Piri Piri Chicken Nibblets

Piri Piri Chicken Nibblets

 

Serves: 4

Time Taken: 25-40 minutes, plus marinade

Syns: FREE

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 1.5kg chicken nibblets, skinless
  • 1tbsp Schwartz piri piri seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp ginger/garlic paste
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • Season to taste

Method

Put all ingredients together in a bowl apart from the chicken, and mix well. Add the chicken to the marinade and ensure all the pieces are well coated. Place them in the fridge until you are ready to cook.

If you have an actifry, place the chicken pieces in the actifry (a few batches at a time) and cook for around 25 minutes. Alternatively, spray your chicken pieces with 1cal spray oil and place them in a pre heated oven, gas mark 6 for around 40 minutes, turning halfway.

Masala Chips

These have got to be the best masala chips I’ve made so far! Really simple to make and very low in syns too. I normally cook my Slimming World chips in the actifry but if you haven’t got one, you can make them in an oven too. Click here for the chips recipe.

Serves: 2

Syns: 1 syn per serving

Time Taken: 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 3 baking potatoes, peeled & chopped
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic granules
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne chilli pepper
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1/2 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp water

Method

In a bowl mix together all the ingredients (apart from the potatoes) to make your masala sauce. Keep aside till needed.

Cook your chips. In the last 5 minutes of your chips cooking, take them out of the oven/actifry and mix into the masala. Pop the chips back into the oven/acyifry to finish cooking.