Great Dunmow restaurant Jalsa Ghar at the British Curry Awards

Halal Mah and Zia Chowdhury collect their certificate for Jalsa Ghar, Great Dunmow at the British Curry Awards 2021

Halal Mah and Zia Chowdhury collect their shortlisted certificate for Jalsa Ghar, Great Dunmow, at the British Curry Awards 2021 - Credit: submitted

Great Dunmow's Jalsa Ghar was shortlisted for excellence at the British Curry Awards on Monday night (November 29).

And while the eventual category winner was Chez Mumtaj of St Albans, Jalsa Ghar's founder Zia Chowdhury said they are thrilled at the honour - as the only Essex finalist for the South East category.

The event has been nicknamed the 'Curry Oscars'.

Mr Chowdhury, who collected his finalist's certificate alongside chef Halal Mah at the black tie gala dinner, said: "We were a little bit overwhelmed when we got there, when we looked at the list there were 10 nominations and we were the only one in Essex.

"For us to be at that level, and in a small town like Dunmow, it's amazing in itself."

He said the business on Stortford Road prides itself on good food and good customer service and has been in business for the last 23 years.

Mr Chowdhury said that having the restaurant next to the pub, with a thatched roof, offered customers the "best of both worlds".

The British Curry Awards attract nation-wide nominations from the public who vote on their favourite restaurants and take-aways.

The list is then vetted by an independent panel of judges.

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This year’s ceremony, hosted by actor and comedian Omid Djalili, acknowledged the challenges posed by the Covid pandemic over the past 18 months, and paid tribute to those who have passed away.

It also noted the supply chain issues, staff shortages and the knock-on effect of multiple lockdowns.

Celebrities from the worlds of politics, sport, showbiz and entertainment were present at the event alongside celebrity chefs and curry restaurant owners and their staff from across the country.

Andrew Kenny, UK managing director of sponsor Just Eat said: "Despite the many obstacles faced, from shortages in the supply chain to difficulty in recruiting skilled workers, restaurants have risen to the occasion and delivered customers a taste of normality when they needed it the most.

"We want to ensure that takeaway restaurants – especially in this sector which contributes so much to British culture – don’t just survive, but thrive, in today’s challenging economic climate.”