Despite recession, Indian food remains a hit in UK

Despite recession, Indian food remains a hit in UK

The numbers of people visiting Indian restaurants is down, but industry figures show that entrepreneurs who have switched to supplying ready-made Indian meals have seen their business soar - and some are struggling to meet supermarket demands.

It is considerably cheaper to buy ready-made Indian meals from supermarkets or from takeaways. Figures show that the loss suffered by the restaurant industry due to recession is directly proportionate to the gains made by companies and caterers providing Indian food.

Leicester-based Sanjay Foods has seen its turnover soar by 50 per cent to 1.5 million pound and has now formed a partnership with a London-based renowned caterer Chak 89.

"There was still big demand for Indian cuisine, despite the recession," Managing director Atul Lakhani said.

"We are now doing church weddings. A few years ago, Indian cuisine at a Christian wedding in this country would have been unheard of," Lakhani said adding the penetration of his products can even be more in the London market provided he get to establish a base in the city.

Other successful Indian food companies have seen their business grow in major supermarkets. These include Desford-based Simtom Food Products, which supplies Indian food products at supermarkets Asda and Aldi.

Bobby's, a prominent Indian restaurant in Leicester, opened up a takeaway counter at Asda, making it the first restaurant to enter into an agreement like this with a supermarket chain.

Bobby's owner Bhagwanji Lakhani said: "I am extremely proud of what we have achieved here. When you get a company the size of Asda wanting to work with you, it's a fantastic feeling."

Curry producer Spice-n-Tice is selling chicken tikka masala, Bombay potatoes and 'lamb rojan josh' at Asda, while the Tiffin Food Company supplies products to several Asda stores with ready-made Indian meals.

The Tiffin Food Company was founded two years ago and uses the recipes and ingredients of the Leicester-based Tiffin restaurant, which was named best Asian restaurant at the Leicestershire and Rutland Restaurant of the Year Awards.

An unlikely beneficiary of the recession-induced growth in Indian ready-made meals is Oxford-based Kiran Bhandari, who recently landed a 300,000 pound deal to sell her home-made curry sauces in Asda supermarkets.

Bhandari, said, "Given the current climate, you would think this would be the worst time to launch a new brand, but we've found the range is already selling extremely well. I think there is a gap in the market.
"I thought a few people might enjoy them but I didn't think it would take off in the way it has. It has been amazing," she said.

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