Where did your interest in food come from and when did you decide to make a career out of it?
I grew up around great Indian food made by my mum and nani ji, so always enjoyed cooking but when I switched to a vegan diet in 2015, food became even more exciting for me. Being creative with plant based ingredients, I’d love to share my food with friends and family, who really encouraged me. So I started with a few stalls at vegan festivals, and from there I’ve continued to work more and more with food whilst reducing my hours in various other day jobs. Since then I’ve had some amazing experiences: catering weddings, Supernormal Festival, themed supper clubs, some brilliantly memorable events with the Brick Box, and even incorporating my food into performance workshops when working on making a play with Common Wealth Theatre Co. All great fun!
We got to know you through the Sonia Sandhu street food kitchen. How much fun was that to do and what did you take from it?
Those were some of the first regular pop ups I did at Bradford Brewery, which I loved and learned loads from. I remember at the first one, I’d prepped loads but sold out of food within an hour and a half, and me and Dipak (who DJed at these events, got to fully bring the Desi vibes), were finished and sat having a beer by 8pm, wondering what and how that had just happened. These pop ups really helped my self belief – each time I would change up the menu, people seemed to love it and kept coming back. The more of these I did, I got better at all the behind the scenes stuff: organisation, menu planning, budgeting and prep, and I’m so glad for that experience. Oh yeah, and remembering to factor in time to feed myself too. That’s important.
What’s the key to great street food?
I’d say being inventive with vegan ingredients to achieve interesting flavours and textures. I really like to put my own spin on Indian snack recipes. Like recently, I added buckwheat and sunflower seeds into my aloo chaat, which really works with the traditional toppings and chutneys. For me, the key is delicious street food which is mindful of nutrition.
How different is it being involved day to day in a cafe setup? Did you enjoy being involved in the creation of Bread + Roses from the start?
There’s so much more to manage in the day to day running of a cafe and I’ve learned a lot whilst on the job. It’s a pleasure to have played a part in the creation of Bread + Roses, which has been a massive team effort involving long hours and dedication. It has not been without its challenges, which at times has been difficult, but this makes seeing happy customers loving the space and what we have to offer even more rewarding.