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First Indian restaurant opens in Cuba (iStock_000016002296Medium)

First curry house opens in Cuba

15th May 2012

A British man and his Cuban wife have opened the island’s first curry house.

Taking advantage of the Communist government’s slow opening up of the Cuban economy to private ventures, the restaurant is run from inside the family home.

Cedric Fernando, owner, says that about 25% of the Cuban clientele are used to the Indian food as they’ve travelled. The newer clients are a little surprised initially but that there are lighter dishes for those not used to the heat. “If you were to give them a vindaloo, I don’t think we’d see them again for a while”.

But running an Indian restaurant in a country not accustomed to it carries its own challenges.  “The spice takes a little while to organise” continues Cedric, “it’s not like the UK where you can rush out and just buy all the bits and pieces that you need”. Instead the couple rely on visiting friends to stuff their suitcases with bags of spices, lentils and other key ingredients.

In the 15 years that Cedric has been going to Cuba, he has seen a lot of changes. Often small, there are a lot of new businesses popping up, from hair salons to car valeting businesses. The government says that increasing the amount of limited private enterprise is crucial in helping to sustain the socialist system. There are currently 1618 private restaurants across the country.

Have you been visiting Cuba for years? What are the changes you've seen?

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