This week marks the 10th anniversary of the Cobra Brick Lane Curry Festival, a two week celebration of south Asian culture and cuisine, which starts tomorrow and runs until 4 June.
The launch of the event took place at the Clifton, a very well appointed restaurant right at the bottom of Brick Lane and the area’s oldest. The invited guests were addressed by several local dignitaries, including Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE, the founder of Cobra Beer and who is very well respected by the local community being one of the most succesful Indian entrepeneurs living in the UK. Bajloor Rashid, president of the long-established Bangladeshi Caterers Association, also spoke and reminded the assembled crowd that not only does 2010 mark the tenth anniversary of the Curry Festival, but also the 20th anniversary of Cobra Beer, and 50 years since the Association came into existence. We also heard from Tower Hamlet’s Mayor, Councillor Ahmed Adam Omer, who was clearly extremely proud of what the people of Brick Lane have achieved over the years.
There are several special events taking place to mark this year’s Curry Festival, including Baisakhi Mela this coming Sunday, when Brick Lane will be pedestrianised for the day and where there will be lots of live music and other performances by the local community. The Cobra Beer Mela will take place at the Vibe Bar on 31 May, an all day festival that will see live music from famous international artists including Bobby Friction and Nerm, and there will even be some dramatic Bollywood dancing! The event will also include the climax of the Best of Brick Lane Awards where the public will be judging the People’s Choice Brick Lane Curry 2010 from a shortlist which includes dishes from several of the area’s most notable restaurants – the Mango, the Clifton, The Clipper, Reema Balti House and Cafe Naz.
If you can’t make it on those particular dates, the good news is that restaurants that are participating in the Curry Festival will be offering 20% off their normal prices and creating special festival dishes throughout, so now’s the time to get down to Brick Lane to sample some curry if you’ve never visited before (and take it from me that they’re already very reasonably priced in comparison to curry houses elsewhere in London). Brick Lane is a fantastic and colourful place to visit, and it definitely gets the thumbs up from me, not least because in addition to the many, many restaurants it also plays host to one of my favourite live music venues, 93 Feet East.