British Curry Day at Atherstone will raise money for veterans’ charity
Pic: Maya Bar and Restaurant is raising funds for veterans
Submitted by Angela Belassie
A restaurant in Atherstone is raising money for a veterans’ charity by commemorating the ancestors who introduced the British to a taste of India.
British Curry Day was launched to mark those who came to Britain from the 1960s, opening restaurants and takeaways, and to show support for the industry today.
Maya Bar and Restaurant on Sheepy Road in Atherstone, North Warwickshire, has announced it will donate £1 to the Veterans Contact Point (VCP), appointed by North Warwickshire MP Craig Tracey, for each Tikka Masala sold in December.
Kamal Miah, who runs Maya Restaurant and is the third generation in the industry, said: “We want to celebrate our ancestors who had the resilience to build what is now a billion pound industry.
“Many families have benefited from the profession – either working in industry or having the opportunity to pursue other vocations – be it medicine, engineering or law – as a result.
“I believe in helping those in need and it really is a team effort.”
Kamal, 47, who came to the UK from Bangladesh aged six, grew up in Lozells and ran his first restaurant aged 19.
The former St Francis pupil quickly learned English and adapted to a new way of life. His father worked two jobs – in a factory and in a restaurant, his grandfather opened a restaurant in Sparkhill, and his older brother and uncle were also in the industry.
Kamal, a father of six, who started helping in the kitchen at the age of 14, said: “Restaurant life is in my blood. I knew I would work in the trade – unless I became a famous footballer.
Kamal, whose maternal grandfather was in the British Navy (HMS Cambridge), said he grew up with the “best of both worlds” combining the two cultures.
He added: “I believe people of my generation have created variations on the traditional curry and added a modern twist to it.”
But the industry has faced its share of challenges, especially in the wake of the pandemic.
Kamal, who set up a takeaway in Nuneaton during the pandemic, also struggled to recruit staff due to work permit issues.
He said: “It has been a difficult time – from dealing with lockdowns, cancellations due to Covid, difficulties getting supplies and staffing issues.
“But we have very favorable customers. We are always open. We are still negotiating. We are still healthy. We are grateful.
British Curry Day coincides with 50 years of independence in Bangladesh and is a national holiday in the country on December 16.
And the event will raise funds for the Atherstone and Dordon Veterans Point of Contact (VCP), chosen by Mr Tracey.
The centers are run by military veterans for veterans who live in the Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire (CSW) area.
Mr Tracey said he was delighted to support British Curry Day and VCP with Maya, who were also part of the Food4NHS project – delivering meals to frontline workers.
He said: “British curry is full of cultural integration and the heritage built up over the past decades has helped to make it the nation’s favorite dish.
“It has been fascinating to learn more about Bangladeshi heritage and both the history of their curry pioneers, as well as the importance placed on caring for their community, which is reflected very well in their generosity in supporting the VCP.
“I would also like to convey my congratulations to the Bangladeshi community on this 50th year of independence.”
Kamal, who received a community support award from Warwickshire High Sheriff and Deputy Lieutenant Joe Greenwell, said: “It has been a difficult time for many people. I have lost friends to Covid and I know many have struggled.
Tam Webster, peer support manager at the Armed Forces charity’s Veterans Contact Point, said: ‘We are delighted that British Curry Day, which marks the nation’s favorite dish and links to independence of Bangladesh, support our charity. This will help us continue to develop our services to veterans.