CURRY-LOVING troops have arranged for their favourite dish to be flown thousands of miles from Wearside.
Staff at Ashoka restaurant in Seaham thought they were the subject of an elaborate hoax when they received an email asking for 100 curries to be sent to an African United Nations base.
Bangladeshi UN Peacekeepers based in the Democratic Republic of Congo made the shop’s biggest-ever delivery order.
The hungry soldiers wanted a batch of Bengali fish curries, served up with side orders of pilau rice and spicy Bombay aloo potatoes.
Restaurant owner Akki Ahmed was even more amazed when he heard how the soldiers had tracked down Ashoka’s menu.
They were put in touch by a Mustafa Azim, a salvage expert from Wallington, who hit the headlines when he agreed to let the producers of Tom Cruise’s latest blockbuster All You Need is Kill blow up two of his planes.
Mr Azim, who has friends serving with the UN, heard about Ashoka through a friend who regularly travels up from Darlington to eat at the restaurant in North Terrace.
Akki, who opened Ashoka in June 2011, said: “At first I thought it was a prank, but then the media started getting in touch. We’re going to need quite a lot of fish.
“We will do most of the prepping the night before then start cooking in the morning at about 8am.
“We’re hoping to have the meals ready by 11am.”
Chefs at the popular curry restaurant will spend hours preparing the dish and will be using traditional ayre and boal fishes.
It will then be packed into specialist aluminium aircraft food containers and collected by helicopter, which will be touching down at Seaham Hall on Tuesday, April 2.
The gigantic order will then be transported by airline from London Heathrow to Kinshasa Ndjili airport – a journey of more than 6,000 miles.
The 38-year-old restaurant owner will travel with his huge curry creation, but hopes to be back at the helm of the restaurant on Friday.
He added: “The stuff we do is a one-off. I have a brilliant chef who specialises in fish curries and the fish dishes we do, you will not find anywhere else in the North East.
“It’s proper Bangladeshi food that they will eat at home, but obviously when you are in Africa you are not going to get the ingredients.”