South Shields curry shop's 6,000 mile takeaway to the Congo
It's not every day you get asked to repair curry dishes for United Nation troops in Africa - but one South Tyneside restaurant is rising to the challenge.
Showkoth Choudhoury, owner of Monsoon in Ocean Road, South Shields, has been tasked this weekend with preparing a takeaway with a difference - to be delivered to the Democratic Republic of Congo
The 42–year–old from South Shields, received an email earlier this month asking if he’d create a number of dishes which will be flown from the borough - by helicopter - to London, before being placed on a plane and flown 6,000 miles to the Congo.
The email was from millionaire Mohammed Kabir, who had visited Mr Choudhoury’s restaurant while he was in the region for a charity football dinner.
Mr Kabir is currently working on various football associated projects the Congo.
Mr Choudhoury said: “I didn’t think it was real at first. It does sound very bizarre and it’s obviously a very long way to send a curry.
“But Mr Kabir was in the restaurant last month and he was saying how he enjoyed the dishes we served him.”
He added: “Naturally I feel it is a massive honour that he’s asked me to prepare the dishes and I’m only too happy to oblige.”
Wealthy businessman, pilot and plane fanatic, Mustafa Azim, who has friends serving in the Congo, will be landing a helicopter behind the Little Haven Hotel in South Shields, around lunchtime on Monday.
Meanwhile Mr Choudhoury will be spending tomorrow rustling up ten mirch masalas, ten achargola curies and five butternut squashtong curries, plus an array of accompaniments.
The meals will then have to be deep frozen to comply with food regulations.
Mr Choudhoury said: “It’s a good selection of curries to take over, the mrich masalas are very hot, with lots of chillies, while the achargola has a lot of pickles in it, while children tend to like the butternut squash one more.
“I know my two children love it, I use my wife’s recipe and have adapted it for the restaurant.
“I’ll also be making some accompaniments and side dishes too, originally I was going to send onion bhajis, but because of the way they have to be stored, they wouldn’t as nice if they weren’t enjoyed fresh.”
If all goes well with Monday’s pick up, it’s thought troops could be enjoying their South Shields curries by Tuesday tea time.
It’s not the first time curries have been flown from the North East to the Congo.
Back in 2013, staff at Ashoka, in Seaham, were tasked with whipping up 100 fish curries to be sent to an African United Nations base.
Restaurant boss Akki Ahmed also made the 6,000-mile journey, which started at Peterlee Parachute Centre.
The gigantic order of fish curry, with side dishes of pilau rice and spicy Bombay aloo potatoes, were packed into specialist aluminium food containers and transported by private plane by Mustafa Azmin - the pilot involved in Monday’s flight - to Biggin Hill Airport in London