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Afghanistan food stall opens in Croydon's Surrey Street market

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SINCE arriving here from Afghanistan 25 years ago, Rahim Toufiq has been keen to share his love of food - especially the tastes of his homeland.

Those years have seen him involved in a range of catering jobs, including working in McDonald's and more recently, as a chef for the Bella Italia restaurant in Valley Park, Croydon.

But none of these overshadowed his desire to work for himself and offer people a taste of his home country.

So, three months ago, he decided to take the plunge by quitting his restaurant job and opening his own hot food stall in Surrey Street market.

Mr Toufiq, who is often supported on the stall by his wife Sofia, is bringing the authentic taste of Afghanistan to Croydon through his range of baloni – a variation on the wrap.

He said: "Traditionally, baloni contains just potatoes, chives and coriander but I have gone further by inventing my own recipes.

"I never get tired of food and when I am working on the stall and producing the wraps it is really exciting."

That excitement has translated into his unique range of baloni which in addition to the traditional version now includes salmon, mackerel, chicken, sausage and a version of bolognese.

Mr Toufiq said: "There is quite a large Afghan population in Croydon and a lot them are coming to the stall already. But I am also attracting students and office workers.

"When I came to Croydon and saw the market, I thought this is the place to give it try and things have got off to a very good start."

Mr Toufiq said he already used a lot of vegetables sourced from the market in his recipes and was looking to expand by offering fruit juices to complement the wraps, with the fruit purchased from other market traders.

He said: "I love being in the market, everyone works together here to help each other."

Mr Toufiq is working most days until 5pm but the day does not end there.

Once he returns to his home in Purley Way, he begins preparation on the next day's batch of fillings.

But, according to Mr Toufiq, working for himself is much better than working late shifts in restaurants.

He added: "It's good because it means I've time for my family."

Afghanistan food stall opens in Croydon's Surrey Street market


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