Taj Cuisine in Lower Stoke delivers takeaway to Congo
Staff at Taj Cuisine in
Lower Stoke prepare to deliver Indian meal to Congo
We've all had to wait for curries, but few of us have held out
for 48 hours.
Thankfully for staff at a Kent takeaway, they had a good excuse
for keeping their customers hungry.
The customers were a UN peacekeeping camp in the Democratic
Republic of Congo - 5,000 miles away.
Award-winning chef Abul Monsur received the surprise order last
week at his Taj Cuisine eatery in Lower Stoke, near Rochester.
Retired Bangladeshi Major Razee ul Islam, who works for a
consultancy firm in Switzerland, had seen him on Bangladeshi
television and decided he wanted a banquet.
Easy does it... staff
carefully carry the precious cargo on board
So he phoned in on behalf of 80 members of the Bangladeshi Air
Force based in the war-torn city of Bunia.
In a fax to the restaurant owner, he wrote: “Even though they
get a UN food supply, it’s not always possible to find good Bengali
“Since you are one of the topmost chefs, I would be happy to pay
for your services.”
Mr Monsur took up the challenge and now his curries, frozen in
plastic trays with dry ice, have been picked up by a helicopter at
there they were destined for Southampton or Bournemouth, followed
by a flight to Paris, another to the Congolese capital Kinshasa and
finally a transfer to the UN base, which also holds British,
Canadian, American and Pakistani troops.
Joining the curries - packed in clear trays so customs officials
could inspect them - was Mr Monsur, his restaurant manager Shahed
Ahmed and pilot Mustapha Azim.
In chaotic scenes at the airstrip, he tried to phone his wife
Eline so she could come, but he ended up leaving without her.
“Honest to God, I’m nervous, I’m excited,” said Mr Monsur, 46.
“I thought it was a dream because you don’t get people ringing for
that kind of thing.
“It’s quite expensive but the British Army’s there, so I said
because they’re doing the nation good I will do a free takeaway.
It’s probably worth about £2-3,000.
“We’ve tried to keep the recipes simple and avoid ingredients
like prawns because we have to reheat everything. Touch wood,
nothing will go wrong.”
Staff get ready for the
first leg of the long journey
The curries included classics like chicken tikka masala, chicken
korma, chicken jalfrezi, vegetable korai and lamb bhuna.
The chef, who owns a sister restaurant in Walderslade, Chatham,
has won awards for his fusion cooking and last summer served
soldiers working at the Olympics.
Helicopter pilot Mustapha Azim said: "It's going to take at
least 48 hours to get there. It's a bit too far for a curry if you
"The food should be alright because we have already
supplied them with the aircraft containers so they will be frozen
and a block of ice when they arrive.
"The conditions are not good. It's started to get cloudy and
foggy. I was praying because yesterday was pretty bad and as you
know there was and incident with a helicopter so due diligence is
Rochester Airport director Paul Britten only found out about the
feat 20 minutes before the helicopter arrived.
"It's not every day we get something like this," he said. "It's
intriguing. It's probably the most expensive curry I will see go
through this place."
Sadly, however, the village takeaway will not snatch the record
for the furthest delivery.
That was claimed by Paul Fenech, who took a pizza 12,346 miles
from Madrid, Spain, to Wellington, New Zealand, in 2006.
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