Feature – Street Food Spotlight – Ahimsa
This week Street Food Spotlight chats with Harry from the gorgeous vegetarian street food stall Ahimsa.
1. How did the idea for Ahisma come about?
I grew up in London and was always a very fussy eater. I was brought up vegetarian, and growing up found that outside of home, vegetarian food was mainly plain simple salads, sandwiches and dull pastas! After 20 years of working in the Public Sector, I moved to Brighton, and knew I wanted to follow my dream of becoming involved in the food industry.
I helped out a friend with her stall at Street Diner in Brighthelm Gardens. This gave me the idea that I could run a Street Food stall independently! This was the beginning of an adventure. I was asked to run a food stall at a three-day local food and drink festival – and Ahimsa was born.
Ahimsa comes from the Sanskrit language meaning non-violence and non-harming of human and animal life. It gives equal weight to respecting nature and our environment. Ultimately, it is a way of life, promoting vegetarianism and the same philosophy that Mahatma Gandhi followed and promoted in his quest. Coincidentally, my origins are from the same state as Gandhi’s – Gujarat, on the west coast of India – which is also a predominantly vegetarian state. It is renowned for its complex and subtle flavours, but produces some of the most exciting and tongue tingling food in India.
The organisers of Street Diner saw my passion and offered me a guest spot late last year. Ahimsa has gone from strength to strength ever since.
2. What are your main influences?
My Mum! She is a brilliant cook and so I always grew up with great tasty food. She loved to try new dishes and instilled in me a passion for cooking.
I’m inspired by different Indian cuisines – it’s such a massive country, with food varying so much from state to state. I always love finding something new and incorporating it into my menus.
My other main influence is my joy of travel and discovering vegetarian food from around the world. I love eating at street stalls and seeing how different dishes are created from simple ingredients.
3. What’s your signature street food dish?
Chaats – and twists on chaats! Chaats are roadside snacks from around India. Our signature one is a Mumbai Beach Chaat: a fresh, tangy explosion of chickpeas, potatoes, crunchy sev (gram flour noodles), puffed rice, peanuts, homemade tamarind and date chutney, coriander and mint chutney, pomegranate and our own special spice dust! It’s a whole firework display in your mouth – or as one of our regular customers said recently, “it’s like eating a rainbow!”
We’ve also got an enthusiastic following for our Pav Bhaji – spiced crushed veg served with toasted buttery buns – and our Paneer Tikka Rolls – paneer, peppers and onions marinated in spices and yoghurt, then slowly roasted and served in a soft, chewy Indian paratha.
4. If you had to sum up your street food in three words, what would they be?
Mouthwatering. Colourful. Explosive.
5.Where can we find you?
Every Friday we’re at Street Diner in Brighthelm Gardens, and we’ll regularly be at their Saturday markets this summer at the same location, and their new Wednesday markets outside Hove Town Hall. We’ll be at the St Ann’s Well Spring Festival, the Kemptown Carnival, the Magpie Festival, and popping up around Sussex this summer! We’re also available for catering. Follow us on twitter @ahimsabrighton to keep up to date.
Are you a local street food trader and want to be featured as part of our weekly Street Food Spotlight series? Say hello!