By Louise Bozec
Thames Valley University is launching the UK's first course in cooking curry, in an effort to combat the shortage of chefs skilled in Asian food.
The Government has given the university £285,000 to develop the Asian Academy of Culinary Skills, which will aim to encourage youngsters of all nationalities to carry on the tradition brought to this country by generations of chefs from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Southall Business Group (SBG) last year submitted a planning application to central government outlining its proposals for the academy. Its members, who represent a variety of businesses in the area, hope the academy will be up and running by next March.
Asif Rahman, owner of Gifto's Lahore Karahi restaurant in Southall and an SBG committee member, said: "The millennium is an exciting time and we want to take Asian cuisine forward and into the future.
"With the restrictions on work permits, it is getting more difficult for people to come here from countries such as India.
"We hope this means the industry will grow, and better curries will be served."
Students on the National Vocational Qualification course will be taught to cook dishes such as kormas and vindaloos at the university and at a nearby restaurant.
The shortage of chefs in the Asian catering industry has become critical during the past few years.
- See "Goodbye to the BHAJIS"