At the weekend we thought we’d potter out for some grub, as a treat. I’ve not found it too hard either; easier than I had thought. Pizza tastes pretty great without the cheese, Japanese has plenty to offer and Indian is a no-brainer. Really there are a decent handful of vegan friendly restaurants in Leeds; you don’t have to look hard in this foodie city to find inspirational chefs.
Indian it was. Hansa’s Gujurati, vegetarian restaurant is just a smidge out of town – just 5 minutes walk across the Headrow, next to The Reliance. It’s a perfect location, because it means fewer people stumble across this gem – but many make the pilgrimage for Hansa’s amazing foods.
Having just had a rather stressful pint at The Reliance, which I usually love (the only vegan beer I could find was in a tiny bottle, and over £6…gulp), we were happy to wander next door to Hansa’s. This is not a place to go to “accommodate” vegetarians, or vegans – this is a place all omnivores should visit. Even my parents, as staunch meat eaters, loved it. It’s traditional Indian cookery at its very best.
For vegans – options are clearly marked, and Hansa even went out of her way to alter a non-vegan option so that I could share it with the Man (taking out yoghurt and replacing it with another chutney). They are completely accommodating, and you can rest assured that no one will glare at you in consternation when you explain your dietary preferences.
First off, fantastic bel puri. With a similar, nutty taste to fresh poppadoms, these 3D wonders are filled with a fresh and tasty mix of chickpeas, onions and other beans. Drizzle some of the saucy accompaniment in and you are ready to roll. Seriously, this clean, mouthwatering mouthful will put a big smile on your face.
Next, one of my absolute favourites – Masala Dosa. You should eat them at both Tharavadu (find my brief review here) and Hansa’s, because they are pretty different. Tharavadu’s masala dosa have the most wonderful, air-thin crisp texture, whilst Hansa’s are a little thicker and moister. Because of this, you can actually taste the dosa pancake itself. I really like both versions, and you will definitely not regret sampling both to make your own mind up.
With the typical, thin vegetarian curry sauce into which you dip your dosa comes another chutney, to leave your tastebuds popping with joy. Next up, the vegetarian thali. I find thalis are usually generous, and this was certainly the case at Hansa’s, where poppadum and bread sat alongside lassi (none for me, unfortunately, but The Man was keen to sample a salty one, which I don’t think I’d be keen on even without current veganism!) and countless curries with boldly individual tastes, textures, colours and spice intensities. Just what you want from a thali, really.
We shared these delicacies between us (one bel puri, one masala dosa, one thali) as well as having a cheeky glass of house wine each (don’t worry, they told me all of their wines are good for vegans too). It came to under £35. What a bargain.
With the cool factor of Bundobust and the slick Keralan charm of Tharavadu, you might take some persuading to venture the 5 minute walk out of town over to Hansa’s. But do – really, you won’t regret it.