The Village Indiya restaurant put Grays dining on the map after winning the ‘best of’ category at the annual Curry Life Awards in London.

Manager Ali Hussain and his team were presented with the award by veteran newscaster, Michael Buerk, in front of an audience of more than 600 people after judges voted their restaurant as the best in South West Essex.

Mr Hussain said: “Restaurants in cities and big towns usually get the critics attention so this is for all the hundreds of smaller restaurants who do a great job week in, week out.”

“The UK has a unique take on Indian food our chefs are constantly pushing the boundaries in terms of flavours and presentation.”

The Curry Life Awards celebrate the unique fusion cuisine of Indian food in the UK in an industry that annually contributes more than £4.2 billion to the economy.

Syed Belal Ahmed, founder of Curry Life Awards, said: “The British love their curry and that is inspiring chefs to be more creative pushing the boundaries of flavours and presentation.

“It’s not been an easy time for the industry in recent years with the recession and restriction of working visas but it has still managed to up its game in response to the public’s appetite.”

Lord Karan Bilimoria, Founder and Chairman of Cobra Beer, added: “You have to be passionate to achieve anything in life and speaking to some of the winners it is clear this is a vocation, not a job.

"I’ve worked alongside restaurateurs for many years and their dedication is something we could all learn from.”