Chaatit, literally meaning ‘lick it’ or in a broader context, ‘finger licking food’ is specially designed fast food for Mumbaikars travelling, working or just chilling out. The essence is of taste which has now spread across India. And now it has arrived in the UK, ‘straight from the streets of Mumbai’, to challenge your taste buds with Mumbai sandwiches, masala chips, chaat and more. Read our interview with Meera Joshi, Founder of Chaatit, below.
Describe your relationship with food in three words.
Passionate, intense and beautiful.
If you weren’t a street food trader what would you be doing? Tell us about your journey.
Food has always been pivotal in my life. As a child, my mother never taught me to cook. I started when I was nine, surprising my mum and others in the family with various singing and dancing flavours. By the age of fifteen, I had picked up all the household cooking chores. This included chutneys, various masalas, cakes and unbelievable ice-cream flavours. I made everything at home, from snacks to sweets. Our house was open for everyone and we always had friends and relatives from all over India. I was always excited as I would have the opportunity to cook for them.
I married and came to London. Both my husband and I decided that I would stay home, see our three girls grow up and experience their first foot steps. The social atmosphere continued after marriage as guests would come at all hours since my husband is also very sociable. All those who tried and tasted my food had commented that, ‘I am being wasted being at home’. After my youngest daughter went to school, my stalled journey reconvened. Baking was my first love and I started baking vegan and eggless cakes and cupcakes.
I attended some small events. The timing was impeccable as I spoke to a famous and a very close family chocolatier friend about my little venture. He was so happy for me and he booked a event for me which was for six weeks without even asking me. He said that he has booked this stall for me and committed that I would be providing Bhel-Puri. I was taken aback initially as I really wanted to pursue baking but more so, I had no clue what I needed to do. He said, ‘just do it Meera – for me, for the next six weeks as I have committed this and then if you don’t want to then don’t ever to do this again. Rest as you know is history.
We are now into our fourth year and although I wouldn’t have dreamt of doing anything other than the food business, if I was pushed to answer what I would do if I was not a food trader, I would have probably been a designer or be something in a creative field.
What would be your last supper or your last meal on earth be if you could choose?
Traditional village food – Baingan bharta, Millet flour roti’s (Rotlo) with lots of ghee, Mixed Daal, Spicy Fried Green Chillies, Garlic chutney, Onion, Jaggery, Sweet Dish – Suji (Semolina) ka Halva. The next dish probably won’t match but I want it as it is my last meal so I also want Puran-Poli (Sweet lentil stuffed roti).
Who would you love to cook for (past or present)?
Anyone who is hungry. I do not differentiate anyone as every soul is a blessed soul.
What is your foodie guilty pleasure?
I am a big foodie and therefore do not have any guilt in relishing pleasurable food.
What’s been the hardest thing so far?
There is nothing hard in life – it’s just a perception.
What’s been the highlight so far?
Peoples reviews and comments is by far the highlight at every event and even after. In fact after every event, we have a family session where everyone in the family talks about the event and gives their feedback. This includes all the positive and off course those critical negatives to improve. Everyone talks about their observations and the discussion is not planned or methodological in any way but yet so important. We have been cultured in such a way that even the young girls in the family are taken seriously when it comes to my business.
What advice would you give to people who are thinking of starting their own street food business?
Famous Nike words ‘Just do it’!
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Find Chaatit at Street Eats on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th July 2017. Register for your free ticket here.