A real warmth emanates from Manjit’s Kitchen, which might be what caught my eye as I strolled through the food hall at Kirkgate Market with a friend one lunchtime.
It’s not just the colourful stand with its striking red and yellow signage or the prospect of warming curries, it’s the welcome given by the couple who run this popular street food company.
Although they still take their bright yellow horsebox to events and festivals, Manjit Kaur and husband Michael Jameson established their first permanent site here in Leeds when the food hall opened up last summer.
The hall, part of a £13m revamp of the market, is a vast area with around 10 different street food stands, communal seating, a performance area and ping pong tables.
There are hot dogs at Fat Annie’s, traditional Vietnamese dishes with a Yorkshire twist at Banh and Mee, and Instabul street food at Mr Mackerel, plus a whole lot more on offer.
It was a little chilly on the day we visited but the stands were still doing a steady trade and there was a real mix of customers from students to businessmen queuing up.
Manjit’s specialises in vegetarian street food and snacks, with chilli paneer wraps, dosas and thalis among the regular offerings.
And it was the thalis that we both selected, in part due to memories of eating these traditional lunches during a trip to India a few years back.
For anyone like me who loves to try bit of everything, these plates of cumin rice, salad, roti, raita and two or three curries from the daily selection are the perfect choice – and good value.
The meals are served up on silver trays with little sections that remind me of school dinners, but with much more appealing contents such as the delicious chana masala with spinach and flavoursome temple dhal I devoured.
While I showed some restraint with the two curry thali (£4.95), my friend decided only three curries (£5.95) with a side of the perfectly crisp onion bhajis would do.
The discovery that he could get the three curry thali, bhajis and a pint of porter for £10 was the icing on the cake.
The delicately spiced selection of food which arrived enticed others passing by our little table to go for the same, with one reminding me of the famous scene in When Harry Met Sally as he told his friend “I want what they’re having”.
Our plates were cleared in no time, with not even a single grain of the perfectly fluffy rice left, such was our enjoyment.
Although Michael was kind enough to share some pointers on how to recreate that cumin rice, I’m yet to master the technique and will quite happily use it as an excuse to return to Manjit’s very soon.