"It's important to recognise the help we had from those who came before us and to give back where we can."
Naseem Talukdar, of UK Curry Connect and PPAAP
British Curry Day has been launched to mark those who came to Britain from the 1960s - opening restaurants and takeaways – and to show support for the industry today.
And businesses taking part will donate £1 to good causes for every Tikka Masala – the nation’s favourite curry – sold (Wednesday, December 1, 2021).
And Community champion Naseem Talukdar, whose own parents ran Rupali restaurant in Bristol, shares his family's experience.
Nassem is director for social responsibility and sustainability with UK Curry Connect (UKCC), a campaign group which has been set up to raise awareness of skills shortages in the Asian catering industry.
He is also the founder of Plastic Pollution Awareness and Action Projects (PPAAP) charity - looking at ways to reduce single-plastic use in the catering industry.
ndependence for Bangladesh
British Curry Day coincides with 50 years of independence for Bangladesh and it is a national holiday in the country on December 16.
Naseem’s grandfather, Hassan Ali Talukdar, came from a small village in Bangladesh - then part of the province of Bengal in British India.
He is understood to have managed food and logistics for the British Navy during World War II - until their ship was captured by Germans and they were held as prisoners of war.
The shipmates were released three months later in May, 1945, following allied Victory in Europe Day (VE Day).
Hassan was granted British Citizenship in recognition of his work. He worked in the UK for several years before returning home.
Naseem, who received a High Sheriff’s Award from the Lord-Lieutenant Bristol in recognition of his contribution to the city and was invited to meet the Queen, said: “I was very young when my grandfather died but I heard a lot about him.
“It’s believed he ran away from home and joined a ship at Calcutta. I’m proud of him and his contribution, which shows our integration into British culture goes back years.”
Naseem’s father, Hazi Mohammed Siddik Ali, came to the UK in the early 1970s and opened his first restaurant in Bath, called Prince of India, in London Road.
He later opened Rupali in Kingswood, Bristol, in 1981, which attracted widespread custom at the time as it was one of the first to use a clay oven tandoor.
Mr Ali retired in 1995 and returned to Bangladesh, where he carries out charity and community work.
Naseem, who studied an IT degree at UWE and has worked as a software engineer, would often help out in the kitchen.
Naseem said of his father: “He was hardworking and helped to provide for our future, both supporting our education and instilling a strong work ethic.”
Tackling homelessness and plastic pollution
Naseem manages Rajastan Royal in Downend and his work in the food industry led him to help the homeless and set up PPAAP.
The takeaway, which joined a pilot scheme to reduce its use of plastic, has been awarded Best Takeaway in the South West in the Asian and Curry Awards.
Naseem said: “My work in takeaways, restaurants and with the homeless has heightened my awareness of the huge amount of plastic used in the industry. I’ve been working with various specialists to find a long-term solution to this problem.”
Rajastan Royal continues to contribute to its community, including its role in the Food4NHS project, in which thousands of free hot meals were delivered to NHS staff.
They have donated money to 1625 Independent People, which supports young people aged 16 to 25 at risk of becoming homeless or who are already homeless.
Naseem said: “It’s important to recognise the help we had from those who came before us and to give back where we can.”
- Naseem is looking to find out more information about his grandfather and his regiment. If you have information or may be able to help, contact email@example.com