The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Thousand-pound curry turns to ashes

Sydney, Dec. 15: A plan by a group of Barmy Army cricket fans to fly their favourite curry dishes to Australia was dashed after quarantine officials seized the food on arrival and issued stiff fines.

The 10 England fans spent a small fortune importing the Indian meals from 9,000 miles away in time for the start of the third Ashes test yesterday.

The unusual takeaway order, which would normally have cost about £140, came to more than £1,500.

Jason Morrin and his friends, who claim there is no decent Indian food to be found in Australia, persuaded the manager of a restaurant in Potters Bar, Herts, to send two members of staff on a flight from Heathrow. Each carried a suitcase stuffed full of chicken dhansak, mushroom pilau and other curry house staples.

But when Raj Miah and Mustafa Azim landed at Perth airport on Wednesday night, they were quizzed by suspicious quarantine inspectors.

They reluctantly owned up to the contents of the suitcases and were each made to pay an on-the-spot fine of A$220 (£88).

“What had us open-mouthed was the fact that despite all the warnings we’d issued when we heard of this story, not only were there two dozen containers of curry, but the gentlemen didn’t at first declare them,” said Carson Creagh, spokesman for the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service. “We fixed them with a stern and beady gaze and they umm’d and aah’d before finally coming clean and confessing.”

Australia has some of the strictest quarantine control measures in the world to protect its £12 billion a year agricultural exports from exotic diseases.

The smuggled curries are due to be destroyed in an incinerator today.

“They get severely cooked and turned into ash. You could say it’s extreme vindaloo territory,” Creagh said.

Paul Burnham, chief organiser of the Barmy Army fan club, said: “Given the strength of the pound against the Aussie dollar, I’m sure the boys are not losing too much sleep over it. I don’t see it as a dastardly Aussie plot to demoralise the English fans — it’s just their law and it has to be respected.”

But all is not lost. The two chefs were allowed to keep the sachets of spices they brought with them and plan to rustle up some curries in The Masala, a friendly Indian restaurant in Perth, today.

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