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Originally published 2018
A man whose actual nickname is ‘lovely’ (sometimes you can spot it written on the side of the saucepans that sit at the back of the stall), Jas’ is one of the friendliest faces on Norwich’s famous open air market. Stall number 21 – where he makes and sells range of hot, vegetarian Indian snacks and dishes – is located on Row A; the side of the market closest to the Sir Garnet pub and medieval St Peter Mancroft.
Jas moved to Norfolk in 2004, from the north Indian city of Chandigarh – a Unesco World Heritage site that was voted the happiest city in India last year (LG ‘Life is Good Happiness Survey). He moved to England to marry his wife Meena, who was born in Norfolk, and has been here ever since. The road to opening his stall though, was not exactly plain sailing…
It took Jas six years to secure his place on Norwich market, at first applying to sell Indian Jewellery from a vacant stall. His application was rejected as there was already a stall selling something similar, and Jas went back to the drawing board.
At the time, he was at Iceland during the day, then working for an Indian takeway during the evening. He changed tactics, and this time applied to open a hot food stall on the market. The application was rejected again, but Jas persevered.
Stunningly in July 2016, Jas’s application was met with the invitation to a meeting about the market, in which plans for an expanded food contingent were discussed. Finally, after a long wait, the Indian Feast that we know and love opened on the 1st of June 2017.
Jas cooks everything fresh in the stall, using ingredients from CJ’s fruit and veg just down the Row (visit them for everything seasonal, and some great food based advice from Jason). For his chutney, Jas uses 5 bunches of coriander every day – 12 on big days such as the Norwich Light Switch On, or the Lord Mayor’s Celebration.
Now, in the VisitNorwich office we are not only big food fans, but we’re also lucky enough to work a mere stumble away from the market. Guaranteed, at least one of us will visit Jas every week. His food, is tasty, fresh, and so reasonably priced (you’ll pay around the £3.50 mark for a fill-you-up-sized meal). Recently he’s introduced dahl and cumin rice to his repertoire, but you can also get chickpea curry, kidney bean curry, aloo gobi and hot snacks such as samosa, spring roll and aloo tikki.
And the food is INCREDIBLE.
Today, I got the dahl for the first time and it was so good that by the time everyone in the office had tried it I basically had none left. It was fresh, warming and complimented by the fresh coriander and the yoghurt chutney that cut through the spice perfectly.
So pay Jas a visit next time you get chance. Fans of Indian food will appreciate his fresh, authentic flavours. Those new to the cuisine will find a gentle introduction to Indian food, and plenty of options available, with the cooling chutney a great addition if you’re big on flavour but small on spice.
Either way, this is one of the best lunchtimes in Norwich.