Birmingham gets a taste of India


Through a chance conversation between Birmingham Central Synagogue member Geoffrey Clements and his neighbour, Bruce Qureshi,came the idea that the shul put on a pop-up Indian kosher restaurant – a first for Birmingham. Mr Qureshi’s passion for cooking, and specifically Indian cuisine, comes from his father, Dr Munir Qureshi. Back in the late 1960s, Dr Qureshi owned a coffee house in Cleveland Road, Balsall Heath and had a loyal following of his countrymen ready to try his original and authentic dishes and take cooking lessons at his house on Court Road, Balsall Heath. He is credited with pioneering Balti dishes which originated with Indian soldiers who wore tin hats in World War One and would heat whatever food was available on the move in the cup-shaped headgear.

So after a crash course in the rules of kashrut and discussions over what could be used to substitute those forbidden ingredients, 50 people gathered, for the first ever Birmingham kosher Indian restaurant. Speedwell Road was imbued with the aroma of Indian cooking as people approached the building!

Starting with vegetable pakoras, the main course buffet was a choice of three dishes - chicken tikka masala, chickpea curry and a mild vegetable curry. Dessert was refreshing platters of fresh fruit and ice-cream and a few wines and beers were enjoyed by those present.

At the end of the meal, Sybil Prais presentedMr Qureshi to the diners – it felt a little like an episode of Masterchef where the chef comes out to meet the diners, only this time there was no question of anything but a 10 out of 10 vote for him. Mr Qureshi spoke of his passion for cooking coming from cooking with his parents from a very early age. Recounting the story of his father, it was clear that he has continued his family tradition of wanting to serve and please others through food – and certainly he achieved this at the event.

Thanks as always go to everyone involved in the event, including Sybil Prais, Lynne Cohen, Barry Sullivan and our shomer, Joseph Clements, who spent the whole day in the kitchens supervising Mr Qureshi, while undoubtedly picking up some useful tips on how to cook perfect basmati rice!

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