A deep-fried ball or a patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both, Falafel which is a traditional Middle Eastern food has become popular among vegetarians as an alternative to meat. The Harrow-based couple founders of Falafel City, Kajal and Mitan Sachdev who earlier worked with Price Waterhouse, tell Rahul Laud that this street-laden food is growing popular in England.
AL: Why did you enter this business of making Falafels?and why the name Falafel City?Doesnt it sound like some football club?
Kajal and Mitan: We both love Falafels. It’s quick, simple and wholesome to eat. The use of the word City in the name reflects our concepts, as we serve falafel with different sauces, from around the world.
AL: You have a strong accounting background. Aren’t accounting and restauranting two diverse fields?
K&M: Indeed complete opposite end of the spectrum. Serving people and food is my passion, I didn’t want to have any regrets when I grew older. So I had to quit my job to make my dream a reality. Sink or Swim?You will always Swim, it’s just the mind that will make you think you will sink.
AL: Why has your wife Kajal joined you?Any particular reason or does she belong to the hospitality business?
M: Kajal has a passion for food. She loves to cook and be creative. I could not have made it so far without her support. After all the falafels and sauces are all her creation.
AL: Falafels have a different recipe in Syria, Lebanon and the Arab world. Indians make it with their spices. What is your speciality? Do you have a London or British version?
K&M: We would say our falafels are unique to Falafel City. So far all our guests love our falafels. We currently have a seasonal sweet potatoes falafel which our guests love. All our falafels are made to order, fresh!
AL: Do you serve it with pita bread like a sandwich as to how in the Middle East it’s served like a vegetarian shawarma?
K&M: We serve it with Pita bread or in salad bowl. In June we launch our new menu.I cant spoil the surprise.
AL: Is this a huge investment business?
K&M: We have put everything we have in to this business and taken out a bank loan. We have that much faith in our concept. I won’t mention the amount as it’s huge.
AL: Do you intend to have a franchisee based business model or open up your own branches?
K&M:Sure, we have had a lot of interest from people who would like to open another Falafel City. Though we don’t want to rush in to something. We need to make sure it’s right for usand the vision for Falafel City.
AL: What’s your target audience?
Various people come to Falafel City. It ranges from different age groups and back grounds, who desire to eat healthy quick food. However during the wee most of them are young professionals who work locally or study. During the weekend it tends to be families and the local community.
AL: Do you think non vegetarians would enjoy eating Falafel?Why?
Sure, 80% of our customers are non-veg. If it’s tasty and filling and has good protein content, it can satisfy anyone. We offer diversity in terms of salads, sauces and have two different types of falafels.
AL: Do you desire to diversify serving other foods?
K&M: We will continuously look in to other accompaniments to diversify option for our customer. Two weeks ago we launch our Dutch Waffle Fries, which has been a hit. Though we don’t want to step away from the main concept of Falafels.
AL: You sell your own brand water, juices and other materials at your outlets? Whats your plan?
K&M: As well as emphasing our food being fresh, it also adds our personal touch. We donate 10p of every bottle water we sell to a charity which is dear to our heart called CORD( Chinmaya Organisation for Rural development) which is part of the Chinmaya Mission. For us Swami Chinmayananda is our guiding light and inspiration. His knowledge has helped us to increase our faith and to never give up, no matter the circumstance.