"I decided to open up and come out for work."
A Hackney takeaway that is said to be the UK’s first vegan Indian takeaway has been a success during the pandemic, achieving popularity among locals, celebrities and footballers.
Musleh Ahmed, known by his customers as Ash, says his business was the first 100% vegan curry takeaway in Britain.
He set up the Hungry Beast Vegan Indian Kitchen on Kingsland Road in 2019.
Ash said: “I’ve got something so unique and I have shaken the entire curry industry.”
He transformed his vegan burgers and salad business into a plant-based curry house just as the pandemic struck in February 2020.
Ash said that since then, it has been a “raving success”.
Curry lovers in Kent and Dorset frequently collect food from the takeaway.
It also receives orders from customers as far away as Macclesfield.
Ash told the Hackney Gazette:
“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 owner said he could not reveal any names but said that he had dropped his meals off at film sets and stadiums.
He continued: “When Boris uncle told us to close down and sit at home, I decided to open up and come out for work.”
In addition to serving customers, the vegan Indian takeaway has also provided 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 plant-based chicken and prawn meals.
Ash revealed that he has been working to perfect his dishes “for a long time”.
He elaborated: “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.”
Ash now hopes to inspire young cooks in Hackney to break boundaries and get passionate about food.