150 Lewes Road, Brighton BN2 3LG
01273 675 886
Amid the hectic jumble of Lewes Road’s student digs and old-school Brighton life is Tuntun’s Cafe. You could have walked past this local treasure a hundred times and never thought to go inside, but once you do you’ll kick yourself for those missed opportunities. Behind the unassuming exterior, Tuntun’s is an authentic cafe creating traditional Bangladeshi dishes packed with flavour, and serving them up with kindness and compassion.
Sayeed and Shamima Rahman, the husband and wife team behind Tuntun’s, came to Brighton from Bangladesh in 2006 so that Sayeed could work on his research doctorate at Sussex University (which he completed this year.) In 2011 they pooled their culinary skills, business experience and community spirit, and opened Tuntun’s Cafe.
For Sayeed and Shamima, supporting the community is a top priority. From teaching vegan cookery classes to offering term-time student meal packages, the couple genuinely care for the needs of those around them and believe in the power of helping others. Their most inspirational project began on their last visit to Bangladesh when they heard about the plight of a local school for children with cognitive and physical disabilities - the Buddhi Protibondhi School in Meherpur.
Despite being the only school of its kind in the area, there was no funding and the staff were all working without pay. There was no playground, very few supplies, and many of the pupils were spending the whole day without anything to eat. The Rahmans didn’t hesitate, and immediately committed to providing the funding for daily school meals. And it didn't stop there. When they returned to the UK they started putting on weekly Thali buffets, where customers pay to eat their fill of dals, samosas, puris and pakora, and the proceeds go straight to the school. Thanks to the Rahmans’ incredible efforts, the children now have regular meals, the teaching staff can be paid, and the school has new permanent premises, which is an awe-inspiring achievement.
Tuntun’s delivers double on the heart, and the food is exceptional; people have been known to make special trips down from London to enjoy it, which isn’t bad for a modest ‘cafe’! When you spend time with Sayeed and Shamima and eat their incredible food, you too become part of the Tuntun’s story.
Discovering Bangladesh with Tuntun's Sayeed
Since spending time with Sayeed and Shamima, Bangladesh has gone straight onto my bucket list. However, I know relatively little about this country, and there is no doubt that Sayeed is a far better source of information on this one than us so-called travel ‘experts’!
To discover the real Bangladesh, Sayeed recommends heading for Dhaka City where “there is real hospitality” and you can “enjoy lots of streetfood from all around Bangladesh, especially panipuri and exceptional biryanis.” Cox’s Bazar, on Bangladesh’s southern tip, is the second longest unbroken beach in the world, and a beautiful place to enjoy Bangladesh’s stunning coast. Sayeed also spoke to me about Rangamati, in the south east of the country, which is known for its contrasting landscape of forest-covered hills and deep lakes; a world away from the bustle of the city.
Or venture nearby...