From organic ingredients to ethical packaging we speak to Shazia Ansari on how she is leading the 'Street Food' revolution.

Shazia, from Rochdale, launched Shazia’s Street Food in Bury in 2016 along with an all-female team.

Her journey to establishing her own business was significantly influenced by her family’s history.

“My parents came to the UK in 1972 under the order of the President of Uganda,

Idi Amin who gave Asians ninety days to leave the country. “My hard-working father and his brothers moved to Rochdale and together they set up a refrigeration business there.

“That’s where I was born two months later and lived there all my life.

“I come from a family who are hard-working and entrepreneurial, and I believe that ethos gave me the courage, at such a late time in my life, to be in business for myself.”

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Shazia revealed taking the plunge was far more challenging that she had previously

“Setting up a business has not been easy. I completely underestimated the sheer handwork and daily devotion that is required to maintain my very high standards. 

“To go from an office job to an intensely manual job is shattering but I have to say that I love every part of it. 

“It’s demanding but very rewarding which is why passion must come into setting up a business of this nature. 

“You have to love it because it consumes you, mentally, physically and emotionally. Thankfully, I like to think that we are now

“Thirty months later, I am in a good place with a thriving business that I am most proud of.” 

‘It's not fast food, it's good food’ is a catchline Shazia firmly enforces. For me, it was always about great food.

“What we serve is food the way we eat at home.

“As a child, everything that was cooked in our house was made from scratch, never out of a packet or a jar.

“When you’re going to spend time on creating a dish, you may as well spend an extra fifteen minutes in peeling fresh garlic and ginger because you will absolutely taste the difference. 

“We use the finest and freshest ingredients in all of our dishes.

“Our menu is simple but great and that’s what it’s about, providing authentic, nourishing food.

“We now have a huge following of loyal customers who trust our standards and are confident that they will always buy food that is 100% freshly made.” 

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Using organic ingredients is another key factor in Shazia’s cooking, ensuring that everything is locally sourced. Her menu includes traditional Asian cuisine such as Nihari, Aloo Andhay and Bhindiya Gosht, but she has adapted the dishes to include fusion items including burgers and kebabs. Although one dish, Shazia admits, does invoke nostalgic memories.

“Our famous Cutlas, which is like a Scotch egg, reminds me of my childhood.

“We would have a boiled egg, with lamb keema and mash potato.

“We used to drown them with tomato ketchup when we were kids but this soon got more exciting when we added our trio of chutneys to this. 

“When customers recommend Shazia’s Street Food, they enthusiastically say, ‘try the Cutlas,’ probably because it’s a Kenyan dish and not many people would have sampled it.”
Her biggest critic, Shazia reveals, is her husband, although she concedes that his 
comments are always warranted.

“I didn’t cook for the first ten years of my marriage. 

“I would pay my mum and she would cook three dishes for me, which I would collect on Monday and all I had to do was make fresh chapatis each evening. 

“But now that I am cooking, my husband is the one who gives me his brutally honest opinion.

“To please him is hard work and as much as he frustrates me when he has something to say about most dishes, it keeps me on my toes and I hate to admit it, but he is always right when it comes to flavour!”

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An integral aspect of Shazia’s business is the use of ethical packaging.

“I am proud to be one of the very few Asian takeaways who takes the use of my disposable packaging very seriously.

“All our packaging is by Vegware. This is incredibly important for me to be ethical and ensure that I’m doing my bit for planet Earth. 

“Always working with integrity is the key to my success.”