No Naga Chillies – but curry competition was hot stuff

Who said people in Birmingham the Black Country and Coventry don’t get on? (well, quite a few have actually).

However, it must be said the fledgling West Midlands Combined Authority is helping to create a positive working relationship in the region.  Now an even newer “alliance” of the Big Three has reaped its own success – by winning Birmingham Press Club’s prestigious Curry Cook-Off Challenge!

Captained by Coventry Telegraph business correspondent Enda Mullen, who was joined by Black Country-based Peter Brookes and Steve Rainbow, fund-raising officer at Birmingham charity St Basils, “The Bucc-a-Sag-Paneers” (whoever thought of that as a team name?) created a dish that not only tickled the taste-buds but also delighted chef Sanju Shrestha, who judged the entries.

A flavoursome and well balanced chicken curry, combined with fresh tomatoes, shallots and cavolo nero, took the honours.

Enda said:  “It was a really top night – very enjoyable and very, very competitive! Winning was a fabulous bonus.”

Indian chef and author Anita Sharma-James, who organised the event, held at the Jojolapa Nepalese restaurant in Newhall Street, Birmingham, said:  “Each of the four competing teams had its own interpretation of a chicken curry. One thought that by adding copious amounts of red wine they would be able to present a dish that was ‘extra special.’   But it simply wasn’t to the taste of the judge!”

Before the competition, Anita provided inspiration to the contestants by offering expert advice in the form of a short cookery demonstration, as well as organising a culinary quiz – which ”The Bucc-a-Sag-Paneers” also won, to complete a memorable double on the night.

Hot-spot:  No naga chillies (the legendary superhot ones) were used in the making of the curry – even though Steve Rainbow created a three-minute documentary film about them for Channel 5. Watch “Quest for Fire” by logging onto