ChaCha’s: An inside look into extended Indian street food stall with new vegetarian section in Preston Market

This is an inside look into the extended Indian street food stall with a new vegetarian section in Preston Market.

By Laura Longworth
Friday, 1st April 2022, 4:30 pm
Updated Friday, 1st April 2022, 4:57 pm

The Post revealed earlier today that Momoz has expanded into the adjacent stall across the aisle from The Orchard Bar at the top end of the Market Hall.

Doubling in size and being renamed ChaCha’s, the business now includes seating and a bigger menu, with the new half of the venue being dedicated to vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free treats like aloo palak (spinach and potatoes), aloo gobi (cauliflower and potato), chana chaat (chickpea curry) and mixed vegetable curry.

Prestonian brothers and co-owners Salman and Masroor Ahmed will also introduce shawarma wraps for meat eaters, and continue to sell old favourites like samosas and chicken biryani.

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Co-owner of Chacha's in Preston Market, Salman Ahmed. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

Salman, 45, said: “Some businesses make their food somewhere else. We make everything here. People say it’s nice to see. They want their food to be fresh.”

The dad-of-three learned his cooking skills from his 59-year-old brother, whom the stall is now named after.

“ChaCha’s is my brother’s nickname. That’s how everyone knows him. It means ‘uncle’. It’s a sign of respect,” Salman said.

“Everyone in the market and all of the customers know him from when he worked as a chef in Naseeb Tandoori House in Preston for 20 years.”

Co-owner Maz Ahmad cooks up a dish at Chacha's in Preston Market. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

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Working life, however, has not always been so sweet for the siblings, who felt down and out when they were forced to give up their clothing company after Preston City Council closed the old market in 2018.

Salman, who had spent 15 years in fashion at the time, said: “Masroor was doing menswear and I was selling women’s clothes in the old market. But they said they didn’t want clothes in the new market. We were left with nothing so we decided to do Indian food because we were missing it, and we had recipes and ideas.”

After surviving lockdown, the business now faces rising prices for raw ingredients.

Indian food available to buy at Chacha's in Preston Market. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

“Meat, vegetables, everything’s gone up, and people are not spending as much as they used to. That’s the worry. Everyone in the market is feeling it. For three or four weeks, it’s been quiet. After 2pm, no-one is around,” Salman said.

But, he added: “It’s going to get better. Street food is popular, and we can make it work.”

Indian food available to buy at Chacha's in Preston Market. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard