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Not English enough: Indian-origin woman denied permission to sell chicken tikka masala in UK

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

While English food is commonly associated with fish and chips and the Sunday roast, the Chicken tikka masala has long enjoyed equivalent popularity, if not more.

It should come as a surprise then, that when an enterprising food trader applied to serve the curry at a St George’s Day celebration, she was refused on the grounds that it was “not English enough”.

Vehemently turning down Tania Rahman’s request, the Salisbury City Council, sent her an email explaining that visitors to the event should eat “English themed food only”.

Miss Rahman, who runs an Indian street food company called Chit Chaat Chai, was “shocked and upset” with the pronouncement.

“We were dismayed to find out that our application has not been successful on the grounds that it was deemed ‘not English enough’.

“In the multicultural hotbed that is modern Britain, it is inconceivable to not celebrate the impact of Indian culture to British life and what better way to do so than by exploring the culinary delights of the former British Empire… A little history will reveal that St George himself was in fact of Palestinian heritage.

St George’s Day is a celebration of all things English, yet much of English culture (tea drinking, for instance) was adopted from India”, she said in a message on the company’s Facebook page.

She received a dismissive reply from the city council stating, “It has been decided that St Georges day [sic] will be English themed food only. I hope this helps.”

With an aim to justify the response, a spokesman of the city council said the email to Miss Rahman had been “poorly worded” and insisted: “The council never intended to be racist.

“The theme of the St George’s Day event in 2015 was olde worlde traditional English with Morris Dancers and dragon fighting. Ms Rahman has raised some very interesting points about modern England and the Council will wish to reflect upon these issues when setting the theme for the St George’s Day in 2016 and onwards.”

Chicken tikka masala was only recently supplanted as Britain’s most popular dish, after holding the title for years.

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Hero Cycles to Grow 60% by 2022 and UK Will Help It

Sreeram said the UK operations would not only go a long way to help the company grow at a robust pace but would also transform the way it caters to the Indian market.

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Sreeram said it was natural for Hero Cycles to
Hero Cycle to grow by expanding in uk, wikimedia commons

As India’s iconic Hero Cycles makes inroads into the UK and European markets with the launch of 75 bikes under its new “Insync” brand, the worlds biggest bicycle manufacturer aims to grow by over 60 per cent over the next four years, says Sreeram Venkateswaran, head of the companys UK operations.

He said that from a $800-850 million company (across all its businesses, including automotive), it is poised to become $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion company by 2022, with Europe and bicycles being an “extremely important component” of that growth story.

Sreeram told IANS in an interview that with the launch of the Insync brand, the company not only aims to penetrate the mid-premium segment of the European market but also transform the way it caters to the Indian market.

In 2015, Hero Cycles had acquired the UK’s Avocet Sports to expand its footprint into Europe and Sreeram was appointed Avocet CEO. Last year, the company opened a global design centre in Manchester to design bicycles of global standards. The 75 new cycles are the first of the lot designed at the $2.7 million Hero Cycles Global Design Centre.

Sreeram said it was natural for Hero Cycles to “get out of the well called India” if it had to transform itself into a strong global player from “value perspective” from being one of the largest manufacturers from a “volume perspective”.

The 75 new cycles are the first of the lot designed at the $2.7 million Hero Cycles Global Design Centre.
Cycling, Representational image- Pexels

“Just from the figures perspective, India does about 17 million bicycles a year and the total value is $1 billion. UK does about 2.75 million bicycles a year and the business is worth about $2 billion to $2.1 billion. Europe does about 21 million bicycles and the business is about $12 billion,” he said.

At the same time, the company’s Europe and UK plans are in sync with its growth plans in India, Sreeram said.

With India’s medium- to high-end cycling segment growing at about 25-27 per cent over the last one-and-a-half years, Hero Cycles plans to optimise the Insync brand models for the Indian market and then take them back home.

“Also, having the ownership of Firefox in India, which is clearly the market leader in the mid to high-end bikes, we are well poised to garner a disproportionate share of the growth as the market starts to grow,” he said.

Sreeram said the UK operations would not only go a long way to help the company grow at a robust pace but would also transform the way it caters to the Indian market.

“UK happens to be in a very nice cusp of market development. It’s about three to four years behind mainland Europe and it’s about three to four or five ahead of the Indian development cycle.

As Indias iconic Hero Cycles makes inroads into the UK and European markets with the launch of 75 bikes under its new "Insync" brand
Hero Cycles to expand in UK, pexels

“What it does from a business perspective is that while usually a bike range has shelf life of one year, a facility in Manchester gives me an opportunity to extend that shelf life to three to four years,” Sreeram said.

“So any investment I make into design and development of bicycles here in this facility has actually four times the value that can be extracted compared to any other company which is solely based out of Europe or the UK and selling only in this market. That’s a huge advantage,” Sreeram said.

Also Read: Indian Art Forms in International Festivals Through Sands of Culture Series

The facility in the UK and designing bikes for the European market make it necessary for the company to also keep updating the design and manufacturing team back home in India to bring it at par with what is required by a European customer, he added.

“So they start looking at quality from not what a guy in Latur would want but as what a guy in Luxemburg will want. That’s the difference we have to create even from a quality perspective.

“These are the kinds of things that are slowly getting imbibed in the entire manufacturing chain which makes us a much more robust and stronger company,” he added. (IANS)