Shapla Balti offer authentic Punjabi, Kashmiri, Bengali and Indian Cuisine from their premises based on the Ridgeway, in Plympton. Mr Ali, the owner of Shapla Balti is a hard working and humble restaurant owner who says he wouldn’t be where he is today without his dedicated staff and loyal customers.
So, how did it all begin for Moshahid? Mr Ali started working part time in the Indian industry from the young age of 15. “Growing up was great- I was never tied down by anything. I could go wherever I wanted”. At the age of 18, Mr Ali travelled all over the UK working in a number of different restaurants; from Manchester and Birmingham, to Salford and Brixham.
Moving around the UK at such a young age gave me an advantage. I could learn from the chefs; I could see how people were putting their own adaptations on the same curry dish
By 18 years old, Moshahid Ali was an experienced Tandori Chef, which is an incredible achievement for somebody of that age! Fast forward through many years of hard work- Mr Ali made the decision to take some well earned time off and move to Bangladesh. “I stayed there for just over a year. It was great to take some time out after working for so long. I spent time with my family, saw some sights and just took the chance to wind down!”
Upon returning to the UK in 1995, Mr Ali was offered the position of Tandori Chef at the Plympton Tandori. “I was eventually promoted to a Chef and stayed there for a further 6 months. I then proceeded to move all around Devon expanding my knowledge even further”.
In 1999, Mr Ali opened a Takeaway on Market Road, in Plympton. After 2 years at the Takeaway, Mr Ali made the move to Shapla Balti- and the rest is history!
“We have a really great Chef here, so the food is what sets our high standard. We like to adapt; and we can only improve by working together.”
Because Mr Ali was taught by many different establishments throughout his childhood, himself and the chefs work together to create their own recipes, with their own unique take on classic curry dishes. However, Mr Ali tells us that the Industry isn’t without its problems.
This culinary mainstay is in sharp decline not due to lack of demand, but to a lack of skilled chefs
“It’s very difficult to find adequately trained chefs nowadays. The new generation are not coming into the curry industry anymore”. Before the tightening of immigration laws, Restaurant owners such as Mr Ali were able to bring in highly skilled chefs along with their wealth of knowledge, to further broaden the cuisine on offer.
However, Mr Ali tells us that due to these changes- and a sharp decline in qualified people applying for these job roles, the Indian industry is currently suffering.
Fortunately for Mr Ali, Shapla Balti is going from strength to strength, having been awarded a certificate of excellence for the third year running, and a 5 star food hygiene rating.
“I would say that loyalty makes us stand out. We had a very loyal customer base from the takeaway that we previously opened on Market Road. As soon as we opened here, all my previous customers chose to follow me and have stayed! Plympton has given us continued support”.
“We get a lot of recommendations through word of mouth. This has kept us going for many years and hopefully many more to come!”
Expanding on Mr Ali’s success; back in November, the Shapla Balti team had to attend two award ceremonies on the same night
Shapla Balti were finalists in the British Takeaway Awards hosted by Just Eat- with a certificate of their achievement on the way. They were also finalists in the British Curry Awards- and were awarded a certificate that is on display in the restaurant today. Out of well over 35,000 Indian restaurants and takeaways in the UK alone, this is no easy feat- so the team must be extremely proud of themselves!
“It was a great night, at both of the award ceremonies! Myself and my Business Partner attended the British Curry awards at Battersea Park; and my cousin and another staff member attended the British Takeaway awards, which took place at the Savoy Hotel in Strand, London”.
“It was a great achievement for us. When I received the award I just couldn’t stop smiling! We couldn’t have done it without our staff and great customers”.
The team at Shapla Balti have no idea who put them forward for nomination, but it was clearly well deserved. Mr Ali tells us that Shapla hosts a number of charity events throughout the year, the most recent being a fundraiser for ‘Fynn’s first footsteps’.
Shapla Balti’s customer following is so great, that the restaurant opened for the first time on Christmas day 2016, and again in 2017.
“Over the Christmas period we were open every day. In 2016 there was such a high demand that we decided to open on the big day. I suggested Christmas Turkey but no, everybody wanted traditional Indian food! It was a really great atmosphere, everyone was so happy”.
We host a lot of parties and events; birthdays, stag nights, hen nights, charity fundraisers- we can accommodate anything!
Looking to the future, Mr Ali tells us that he would love to win multiple awards. “Once you have your first award, you get hungry for more so I would definitely like to work harder and improve on that aspect. I would also love to expand the restaurant- maybe knock through a few walls!”
Mr Ali tells us that another restaurant isn’t on the cards just yet, as he can’t guarantee the same level of quality and service in two places. “I am friends with my customers, we have a great atmosphere here and everybody loves to socialise- that’s what makes this place so special”.
Moving on to the food, we ask Mr Ali what he recommends on the menu. “The lamb Chun Chun is by far my personal favourite. It’s very spicy!” Lamb Chun Chun is Lamb Tikka cooked with green chillies, green peppers and onions. Mr Ali tells us that Jalfrezi dishes are perhaps his most common recommendations. “At Shapla we don’t want you to be disappointed. If you are looking for advice on any of the dishes, please do ask and we will be more than happy to help!”
Shapla Balti is open from 5:30-11:30pm 7 days a week, and deliver to the people of Plympton for free on orders over £25. Shapla may already be your favourite local takeaway, or you may never have tried it- but given this restaurants success over recent years, and becoming finalists in not one but two prestigious awards- it may just be worth a try!