18 | Sep | 14

Richard Johnson

The In Crowd

Manjit built her original streetfood cart from the bits and pieces people no longer wanted. Like snooker cues – and the wheels from a child’s old bike. Then she bought a flowery 1980’s Leyland DAF 200 (with a vintage sound system in the back) to tow it along. It was all a bit home-made. But the bhel puris, chapati wraps, and samosas that she sold out the back were touched by the hands of the Gods. And her chai won Best Drink at the British Street Food Awards 2012. “All mixed for you how you like” she says. “With vintage Jamaican music….” She’s upped her game since then, and now trades from her own horse box. With papers for her own place. But she still dances with the stars.

Name of trader: Manjit Kaur

Description of van: Rescued horsebox converted via a crowdfunder campaign

What makes your food different?:  I don’t cut any corners – we do it all – sauces, chutneys, breads – all made at the horsebox

What difference would it make to you to win a British Street Food Award? For me it would mean finally vegetarian food on the street is getting the recognition it deserves and would signal a change for the better – a shift.

What got you into street food? Redundancy from a shit job and a desire to do my own thing and make my own luck.

Are you qualified? Yes but I can’t quite find my papers at the moment I will send copies.

What’s your favourite kitchen utensil?  Big stick

Do you like dealing with the public? I do yes – but my husband is a liability. I usher him out of the way when I can sense a situation brewing.

What’s the best thing about street food? Community – coming together – it’s a leveller too -eating sharing -it’s sort of what we are designed to do.

What’s the worst thing about street food? Wind and rain and mountains of washing up after an event.

Where was the best street food you’ve ever eaten? Grilled corn from a roadside in India – bucket BBQ – corn – salt, lime, chilli – simple and beautiful.

Do you like twitter? Yes I do – the real feedback is on the street though … and when you count up the money.

If you had to give advice to someone starting out in the world of street food, what would it be? Start now with what you have – from where you are.