Some of South Tyneside’s finest cuisine is set to be enjoyed by United Nations troops in Africa – thanks to a takeaway with a difference.
Staff at Monsoon, in Ocean Road, South Shields, were set the unusual challenge of making curry dishes to be flown to the Democratic Republic of Congo, over 4,000 miles away/
The food today made the journey to the African country by helicopter after Monsoon prepared enough to feed up to 70 troops.
It came after restaurant owner Showkoth Choudhoury received an email from millionaire businessman Mohammed Kabir asking if he could create the dishes.
Mr Kabir – who is working on various football-related projects in the Congo – had visited Monsoon last month, and was so impressed that he set Mr Choudhoury and his team the unusual task.
Mr Choudhoury, 42, from South Shields, said: “We prepared four big containers of food, which is enough to feed 60 to 70 people, easily.
It’s a massive compliment to me and my staff, and it was fantastic to set the food on its journeyShowkoth Choudhoury
“I was delighted to agree to this because it’s an absolute honour.
“It’s a massive compliment to me and my staff, and it was fantastic to set the food on its journey.
“Hopefully all will go to plan and the troops will be enjoying the food tonight.”
The helicopter touched down behind the Little Haven Hotel, in South Shields, this lunchtime, despite strong winds.
It was flown by pilot Mustafa Azim, who has friends serving in the Congo.
Mr Choudhoury and other Monsoon staff loaded the food onto the helicopter, with 10 mirch masalas, 10 achargola curies and five butternut squashtong curries, along with an array of accompaniments and side dishes, included.
He added: “It was an honour to be able to do this, because Mr Kabir had tasted the food himself when he was here and clearly liked it.
“I couldn’t believe it when I received the email, though.
“I had to call him to get him to confirm it was true, and to my delight it was.
“Hopefully the troops will enjoy what we have prepared as much as he did.”
Mr Choudhoury added: “We prepared a good selection of curries.
“The mirch masalas are very hot, with lots of chillies, while the achargola has a lot of pickles in it, and children tend to like the butternut squash one more.
“I use my wife’s recipe and have adapted it for the restaurant.
“I also be made 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.”