Curry chef’s Ramadan cook-up for Sunderland homeless

Amir Riaz (right) and Saif Chaudhry (centre) of Monsoon Kitchen, who have been making meals for the homeless at Swan Lodge, High Street East, Sunderland. the pair are pictured with Centre chef David Davison.
Amir Riaz (right) and Saif Chaudhry (centre) of Monsoon Kitchen, who have been making meals for the homeless at Swan Lodge, High Street East, Sunderland. the pair are pictured with Centre chef David Davison.
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HUNDREDS of free meals have been handed out to the homeless, thanks to a city restaurant.

For every meal bought at Monsoon Kitchen, in Monkwearmouth, during the month of Ramadan, owner Saif Chaudhry pledged to rustle up a meal to help those less fortunate than himself.

As a result, staff from the new Indian restaurant, which opened in the former casino building in North Bridge Street earlier this year, made 338 meals for residents at Swan Lodge shelter in High Street East.

Saif decided to provide the meals as a way of observing the charity side of Ramadan, while also raising more awareness on Wearside of what the Islamic holy month entails.

“We’ve had to come along to Swan Lodge to prepare the meals a few times because there’s so many,” said Saif. “Everyone was so hungry they’ve been coming back for seconds. One gentleman said it’s the most full he’s been in 15 years.

“You don’t do something like this to feel good about yourself, but it was great to get feedback like that.”

The residents were treated to a three-course meal including seekh kebabs to start, mutton and potato curry for mains and gulab jamun for dessert.

Saif said: “We didn’t hold anything back, the food was quite spicy. But it was really warming and hearty. He added: “People think Ramadan is just about fasting, but it’s also about taking a step back and thinking about what you have. It’s a time of reflection.

“One of the most important reasons we fast is so that we can try to experience what life is like for those who are less fortunate than us.

“There are people all around the world who, unlike us, don’t have the luxury of being able to break their fast with a big, hearty meal. Their fast is continuous.”

It’s this aspect of Ramadan, which was observed by Muslims across the world from July to August, that inspired Saif to come up with the charity project.