RAF's order to go - 4,300 miles

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The Independent Online
When RAF Flight Sergeant Dave Powell decided to send out for a curry for his Nato friends on exercise in frozen Canada, he wanted only the best.

And the best, he had decided on his honeymoon last month, was Tandoori Night in St Helier, Jersey.

Restaurateur Sultan Al-Mahmood left the Channel Islands two days ago with enough chicken tikka masala, madras and vindaloo for 75, to fly 4,300 miles to Canada.

Flt Sgt Powell was confident that the most elaborate curry-takeaway service yet arranged will go a long way in the cause of international co-operation.

He and his air force colleagues sat down with Nato allies from New Zealand, Holland and the United States for the feast last night.

"I thought it would be a fantastic idea to have an Indian takeaway so they could get a taste of a real English delight," he said, with due deference to Britain's multi-cultural society.

Flt Sgt Powell is a member of No 8 squadron, normally based at RAF Waddington, Lincoln. They flew out to Cold Lake airbase near Edmonton 10 days ago for their fortnight stint with exercise Maple Flag.

A traditional part of proceedings is to offer a little hospitality at the end of exercises. But a locally produced buffet is the norm.

"This is very unusual," Flt Sgt Powell said. "But it's very important that we all co-operate together. It's camaraderie."

Mr Al-Mahmood arrived at the airbase yesterday. He took over a mess to prepare the dishes, many of which were frozen for transportation.

As for the bill, Flt Sgt Powell said the British taxpayer should not worry. "The RAF won't be partaking in any costs. The financial arrangements have been made privately between Mr Al-Mahmood and myself."

Flt Sgt Powell will be having the chicken vindaloo. "Most of the RAF like hot spicy food," Mr Al-Mahmood said.