Owner of UK's first vegan Indian takeaway: 'I have shaken the entire industry'
- Credit: Hungry Beast Vegan Indian Kitchen
A Hackney vegan curry pioneer built a successful take-away restaurant in Dalston during the pandemic, which has proven popular with locals, celebrities and footballers.
Musleh Ahmed, known by customers as Ash, says his was the first 100 per cent vegan curry takeaway in Britain, when he set up Hungry Beast Vegan Indian Kitchen on Kingsland Road in 2019.
Ash told the Gazette: "I've got something so unique and I have shaken the entire curry industry."
The Hackney cook converted his vegan burgers and salad joint into a plant-based curry house just as the pandemic struck in February last year.
He said it has been a "raving success" since, with frequent collections from curry-lovers in Kent and Dorset, as well as orders from customers as far away as Macclesfield near Manchester.
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Ash added: "At the start of it everyone was making fun of me and mocking me but one year down the line I have got really famous influential people in and out of my takeaway."
The chef said he could not name names but added that he had dropped his dishes off at movie sets and stadiums.
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He added: "When Boris uncle told us to close down and sit at home, I decided to open up and come out for work."
Hungry Beast also offered up thousands of meals to the homeless during the pandemic.
Ash said: "Throughout the entire lockdown we had an open kitchen for the homeless. Everyone would line up and pick up their free food and be on their way.
"I'm fortunate enough to have a roof over my head, have a business and I could give back, but there is a lot of people who don’t have anything."
Hungry Beast offers dishes with plant-based chicken and prawn meals which Ash has been working on "for a long time".
He added: "It has been many years in the making. I have been working on the menu and had to go about getting the authentic dishes right.
"You know the dishes like the jalfrezis, masalas and the kormas, doing that without the dairy and without the meat and chicken - it takes a lot of work."
After growing up in Hackney, Ash hopes to inspire young cooks in the borough to break boundaries and get passionate about food.