Local eateries in the mix for Curry Awards

Two of Ballymena's Indian eateries, Khayber and Sanjha, have been shortlisted in the Ulster category of the inaugural Irish Curry Awards.

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With over 60,000 nominations received from avid food-lovers and seasoned gastronomes across Ireland, Khayber, located at Raphael Way, has been nominated for Best Chef and Sanjha, on the Cullybackey Road, for Best Newcomer.

They have made the prestigious shortlist and the public is now being called on to cast votes for their favourite.

Their votes will be combined with the judges’ outcomes, following their visits, to rank each eatery based on pubic preference as well as food and service quality.

One winner, per region, will be chosen for each of the six categories - Best Chef, Best Young Chef, Best Newcomer, Best Front of House, Best Takeaway, and the highest honour of the awards ceremony, Best Restaurant.

The awards, supported by Cobra Beer, Yelp!, Food Northern Ireland, Tanqueray and Bollywood Jalwa Production, are intended to bring long overdue recognition to the contribution made to Ireland’s food scene by hundreds of Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and other Asian chefs, restaurant workers and managers.

Commenting on the shortlists, Ali Askir, the architect of the awards and owner of celebrated Indian restaurant SAFA in Belfast, said: “We received an unprecedented number of nominations throughout the length and breadth of Ireland – solidifying the fact that recognising the contribution of this sector was long overdue.

“With so many revered establishments in contention the judging process will be challenging. It is gearing up to be a fantastic first year and we can’t wait to crown the best on the night.”

Ali founded the Irish Curry Awards because he says he feels that “Indian restaurants are not recognised in Ireland as they should be, even though they contribute equally to food service in the country”.

An awards ceremony will be held in the Ramada Plaza Belfast on October 25, where the winners of each province will be announced. All proceeds are in aid of Children’s Heartbeat Trust, the official charity partner of the awards.

For more information and to cast your vote, visit www.irishcurryawards.com. Voting closes on October 9.