BIRYANIS, baltis and bhunas are the staples of Indian cuisine traditionally cooked by Indian chefs.
But one restaurant group is looking to attract more English chefs into its kitchens.
The UK’s curry industry, which is worth about £4bn per year, has been struggling to cope with the demand for chefs.
Tighter immigration rules have increased demand for skilled workers, pushing up wages, forcing restaurants to close as they struggle to make a profit.
Last year, the Bangladesh Caterers Association, the trade body that represents 12,000 curry houses in Britain, said the crisis was threatening the future of the industry. It predicted that up to a third of restaurants were facing closure.
But Kaz Miah, who runs the Red Lounge Group, which employs 80 people across its six restaurants, has come up with a solution to the problem.
He is encouraging and welcoming English chefs to take up roles in his restaurants, and he even hopes to set up a training scheme, inspired by the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver.
He said: ‘There’s a big crisis in the Indian restaurant industry due to the shortage of chefs. We need to do something about it and train home-grown chefs.
‘People can learn to cook Indian food – all it takes is a bit of patience. There’s a lot of people out there doing nothing who would benefit from being trained for a job in a kitchen.’
Jason Parker has been working at one of Kaz’s restaurants – Pasha in Cowplain – for nearly two years.
Kaz hired 34-year-old Jason, from Southsea, after he turned up to do some painting at one of Kaz’s restaurants.
Kaz immediately saw the painter and decorator’s potential and asked him to work in the kitchen.
Jason, a dad-of-three, said he loves the challenge of the kitchen and hopes to one day be fluent in all the dishes.
He said: ‘My ultimate goal is to not even have to think when a ticket comes in. To be able to pull out a pan and know within seconds what is needed.’
Jason said he has been made to feel welcome by the other chefs and that he was thankful for their time.
‘I thought it’d be difficult when I first started,’ he said.
‘But it’s not as difficult as I thought it would be. People think that it is difficult as it is a different culture from a different country.
‘The staff do talk in a different language sometimes and some people can find it intimidating. It is not as simple as working in an English kitchen, but the Indian kitchen is so much nicer.
‘They really make you feel like part of the family.’
Red Lounge Group runs Kassia and Red Lounge in Drayton, Pasha, Red Lounge and Palash in Cowplain and Kassia in Clanfield.
Kaz has been in talks with South Downs College and Highbury College in the hope of setting up a wider scheme.
He also said he wants to hear from more restaurants that would be prepared to work together on the project.