A traditional Hartlepool restaurant has proved it is still red-hot more than 20 years on by winning the Curry House of the Year award.
The Balti, in Murray Street, Hartlepool, beat off competition to win the title after loyal diners voted it as the number one curry house in the town.
The family-run business, which is managed by Ashraf Khan, 42, has been running for around 20 years.
Mr Khan said they were delighted to receive the award, which he said was a reflection of their good customer service.
“It is fantastic,” he said.
“We are a family-run business and have been here since 1995 and this award shows that we are still going strong.
“We want to thank our customers for voting for us.
“A lot of our customers have been coming in saying they had put us forward for the award, but we never thought we would be this popular!”
To win the award, curry house diners in Hartlepool were asked to vote for their favourite restaurant.
They were asked to choose from a shortlist which restaurant they felt came out on top in terms of taste, atmosphere and customer service.
Mr Khan continued: “We have a lot of regular customers, some of which we have been cooking for for the last 18 years.
“Our customers keep coming back because of the quality of our food and the service.
“The fact that we have come out as number one in the competition shows that we must be good and the reason for that is that we use quality products.
“We have a nice atmosphere and we know all of our customers personally.
“We know what they like to eat and their tastes.”
The business believes it stands out from the crowd by ensuring they use traditional spices to give their food the authentic Indian flavour their customers love.
Ashraf’s brother Afzal Khan, the head chef at the restaurant, said he was delighted with the award and thanked their regular customers for voting for them.
He said: “I believe our success comes from the fact that we always try to satisfy our customers as much as possible.
“People come here, try our food and keep coming back.
“The award is very much appreciated, as it’s always nice to when you have achieved something.”
Those shortlisted were Sheesh Mahal in Seaton Carew, who came second place, and Saffron Express, on York Road which came third place.