Celebrating not only its 10th year of existence but also the 200th anniversary of curry being served in the UK, 2010’s Brick Lane Curry Festival looks set to be hotter than ever. Running from today until 4th June, the festival will provide a colourful programme of entertainment, competitions and, most importantly, special menus created for this occasion.
The fiery fortnight is sponsored by Cobra beer, whose founder, Lord Karan Bilimoria, spoke at yesterday’s launch of how he is 'privileged to sponsor this terrific annual event' after having started out hand-delivering beer on Brick Lane over 20 years ago.He also presented Cobra’s ‘Best of Brick Lane Awards’, which included a recognition of host restaurant Clifton as the best value for money. Incidentally, outgoing Tower Hamlets Mayor Ahmed Omer also has fond memories of Clifton, as in the 1970s he and his siblings 'used to save up our pocket money for a month just to have the taste of a curry’. As the Mayor opened the festival and all of Brick Lane’s curry entrepreneurs gathered around, the great strength of this self-made community was clear and their enthusiasm, as well as their pride in what they’ve achieved, is surely a sound basis for this popular festival, which last year attracted over 60,000 attendees. Whilst there are undoubtedly some sub-par curry venues on Brick Lane, the discounts (up to 20%) offered during the next fortnight will at least allow you to explore and find your favourites without breaking the bank.
One particular event to watch out for is the Cobra ’Mela’ on 31st May, which boasts not only live music and dancing but also the chance to sample the finalists in the ‘best curry on Brick Lane’ competition and wash them down with a free beer. We had a sneaky taste yesterday and, whilst all of the entries were very good, our money’s on the surprising and succulent fish offering from restaurant Mango.
The festival runs from 21st May - 4th June and includes the family-friendly Baishakhi Mela on Sunday and the Cobra mela on 31st May at Vibe bar from 12pm (Curry sampling between 1-3pm). Nearest tube is Aldate East.