CURRY connoisseurs who have catered to an Oxford estate for two decades are in the running for national recognition.

Cafe Spice in Rose Hill is one of 10 restaurants shortlisted in the inaugural Asian Restaurant and Takeaway Awards, for best in the South Central region.

Spice Lounge in Burford is also up for the same award, which will be handed out at an event in London on Sunday.

Celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott is one of the presenters of the ceremony, which will take place at the InterContinental Hotel at the O2.

Restaurants were nominated by the public had to earn their place at regional ‘cook-off’ battles, including one at Oxford Brookes University.

Father-of-four Mohammed Abdul Haque runs Cafe Spice in The Parade with his family, having opened in 1998. He credited his ‘loyal’ customers for his restaurant’s success.

The 44-year-old, who lives in Cowley, said: “I think Indian cuisine is like our culture – it’s very rich and aromatic and authentic.

“Some of the clientele I have come in four or five days a week. It’s because of their kind comments that I’ve been put into this position.

“I’m really glad they’ve taken this opportunity to show their support.

“I hope to get the award but to come in the top 10 in the region is in itself quite a big thing.”