see our photo album of the competition
The Central Street Cookery School is part of a thriving local community centre in the heart of London. It has a light, airy training kitchen which was an ideal place to hold the 2013 International Indian Chef of the Year Competition.
The final of the competition was held on Thursday 14th November. I was honoured to be asked to be one of the judges again this year and delighted to discover that one of my fellow judges was the award-winning cookery writer Mridula Baljekar, who is a favourite author of mine. The founder and organiser of the competition, Tommy Miah, was on hand to make sure everything ran smoothly.
The contestants got there early to get all their ingredients and equipment set out and then at 2pm the chef's assistants were asked to leave and the judges replaced them in the kitchen. Then the serious business of cooking began. The contestants had 2 hours and 15 minutes to prepare their four dishes - two main dishes of meat, fish or poultry and two vegetarian dishes. They could make an optional dessert if they wished and time permitted.
The contestants were: Dhalowar Husain, head chef at the Don restaurant in Welwyn Garden City, Ashwani Kumar, head chef at the Mango Lounge in Windsor, Sabrin Hoque, a housewife from Ilford, Shabu Natarajan, head chef at the Koolba restaurant in Glasgow, and Sabir Ullah, a project manager from London.
The competition was fierce and closely fought and, as a judge, I can confirm that any of the contestants would have been a worthy winner because the quality of the cooking was so high this year. But, as is the case with these things, there can only be one recipient of the £1,000 Lord Fraser prize and this year's competition winner was Ashwani Kumar. Here is his winning menu:
Rice Crusted Tiger Prawns - served in a shot glass, layered with three kinds of different chutneys.
Fig and Vegetable Samosa - fig and vegetable, spiced and stuffed in filo pastry.
Hyderabadi Clove-Smoked Breast of Chicken - chicken breast stuffed with minced leg of chicken, peppadew and black olives, spiced with cardamom and garam masala.
Green Bean Porial and Butter Rice, garnished with fresh pomegranate seeds.
Trio of Mushroom Kofta Curry - three type of mushrooms cook together with paneer spiced and deep fried patties served in curry sauce.
Carrot Cake with Mascarpone Frosting - cinnamon and star anise flavoured soft carrot cake with mascarpone-vanilla frosting.
The competition offers two additional prizes - the £250 Lady Fraser prize for the best vegetarian dish, and the £250 Bertha Forrester prize for the best main dish. The Lady Frazer prize was awarded to Sabrin Hoque and the Bertha Forrester prize to Dhalowar Husain.
The award ceremony was held at Tommy Miah's Raj Hotel in Islington. On receiving his award and his winner's cheque for £1000, Ashwani Kumar graciously announced that he intended to donate his prize money in full to the Philippines Typhoon Appeal which prompted a huge round of applause from the audience.
If you are interested in taking part in next year's competition, please keep an eye on the competition's website (link below) for an announcement of when it will be open for entries.
Tommy Miah's International Indian Chef of the Year Competition
the Central Street Cookery School
award-winning cookery writer, Mridula Baljekar
Shamim Syed's Durbar Tandoori Restaurant