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Hottest curry winner

National Curry Week’s (23-29 November) XXXMints ‘Can You Handle the Heat’ competition was held on 26 and 27 November at the World Food Market, ExCel, London Docklands.

Restaurateur and founder of British Curry Awards, judge Enam Ali declared that previous winner Rukon Latif’s ‘Curry Hell’ was still positively lethal as he and his fellow judges, Rajesh Suri of Tamarind, Cyrus Todiwala MBE of Café Spice Namaste and TV Presenter and foodwriter Mridula Baljekar struggled to even taste the fiery dish from Newcastle.

“In spite of the fact that Rukon’s curry was so hot, he couldn’t be crowned overall winner as the rules of the competition state that not only are the judges looking for a spicy hot curry but also one that is tasty and could be included on a restaurant menu without giving customers a ticket to the toilet or, more seriously, hospital,” said organiser Peter Grove.

Seven finalists from all over the country created dishes in an effort to claim the title but the judges were unanimous about the winner: Alun Sperring, chef/owner of The Chilli Pickle in Brighton for his ‘Oxtail Madras’ which was spicy but included enough layers of taste and texture to make it an exciting dish. Runner up was Dipna Anand from award-winning restaurant Brilliant in Southall, London.

The judges agreed that ‘Curry Hell’ retains its title of the hottest curry but that it should not be allowed near any menu in the country. Several of the dishes used the Dorset Naga chilli from grower Michael Michaud who also produced a fiery dish for the Challenge.

The event was run as part of National Curry Week to support the raising of funds for Oxfam’s work in South East Asia.

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