About the Desi Pubs Project
Desi Pubs is an extraordinary story about migration, survival, love and food. For over 40 years, the Black Country has been quietly incubating a gastro revolution, the ‘Desi pub’.
It’s an East meets West story, where the classic English pub with its ales, darts and dominos meets Punjabi food and Bhangra. Landlords Beera, Jinder, Jeet, Dal, Slack and Amrik, have opened their pub doors to six artists sharing their personal life stories and experiences over a pint.
The pubs have helped shape bespoke creations which capture the heart and soul of each venue and their punters. Portraits, stained glass windows, photography, mosaics, and handcrafted pub signs have been produced for permanent display in each pub. This collection is part of an ongoing body of work produced by Creative Black Country that includes an archive, broadcasts and a publication.
Parminder Dosanjh, Creative Director at Creative Black Country, comments: “The project is about telling this extraordinary story in the sincerest way and paying homage to the people at the heart of it. The story has many layers and includes tales of migration, survival, love, and the remarkable meeting point of the English Pub and once Indian migrant.”
Asian landlords have been salvaging the struggling pub trade in the area for decades by reinventing failed pubs for new communities and as a result redefining British pub culture. The Black Country is uniquely populated with around fifty successful Asian run pubs which serve traditional ‘Punjabi dhaba’ style curry.
The pubs have their own signature dishes that attract punters from all over the region. Desi pubs have been popping up since the 70’s initially frequented by mostly Asian men working in the foundries. Award-winning TV chef Cyrus Todiwala visited the Black Country during the project to discover more about the importance of food in Desi Pubs.
“I’ve never known a situation where a pub run by an ethnic minority group has given reason for others to create art from it and for other people to try and understand how this came about. It’s interesting to see how they’ve managed to build two things – a very typical British institution, the pub, with a very typical British-Indian aspect, the food.”
2017 sees a Desi Pubs book being launched along with a website.