Hansa’s, Leeds: a vegan feast for New Year’s Eve
Hansa’s is a Leeds institution. The eponymous Hansa first brought her Gujarati cuisine to Leeds nearly thirty years ago, and since 1986 this vegetarian (and mostly vegan) Indian restaurant has won numerous awards and grown famous for its excellent food and warm hospitality.
Bored of the usual New Year’s Eve routine of spending the evening drinking in crowded bars, this year we decided to check out Hansa’s special end of year dinner event. Kicking off at 8 p.m. and lasting until well after midnight, the evening promised a veritable feast of vegan and vegetarian food, as well as wine, games, music and fireworks, for the all-inclusive cost of £39.99 – a reasonable price for an entire evening’s worth of quality food, drink and entertainment, especially considering how much you could spend on a big night out touring the nearby bars of Leeds’ Northern Quarter.
The evening started promisingly with the traditionally warm Hansa’s welcome, a glass of organic red wine (Hansa’s wines are all vegan) and a canape. My canape was a pani puri, a crispy puffed ball filled with spicy chutney and vegetables.
More canapes soon arrived at our table, comprising a selection of pani puri, vegetable bhajis, and small, spicy rolls called patudi.
Two rounds of canapes left us hungry for the starter course, which included a trio of dishes. The first dish was a bit different to the traditional Gujarati cuisine served at Hansa’s, as it was an African dish called Kenyan special mogo – a kind of spicy curry made from the root of a shrub called a Cassava. Interestingly, Hansa’s amiable husband Kishor told us that whilst he and his wife are of Indian heritage, they were actually born and grew up in Uganda and Kenya, which explains why the restaurant’s menu features several African-influenced dishes.
As well as the Kenyan special mogo we had stuffed chillis (bharela marcha), and coconut petis – patties served with a chilli sauce. Whilst tucking into our tasty starters we puzzled over Hansa’s New Year’s Eve quiz, though sadly our general knowledge was to prove rather lacking and we failed to win the prize of a bottle of champagne.
With the quiz over our main course arrived – an amazing spread of dishes which included two curries, rice, puris (breads), vegan raita, and stuffed peppers. After the canapes and starters we wondered how we were going to manage the main course but everything was so delicious, particularly the channa daal and the turnip koftas – turnip balls in a spicy curry sauce – that we managed to finish all of the food. We were admittedly feeling distinctly stuffed as we played two rounds of bingo, compered by our ever-enthusiastic host Kishor.
After a short break the desserts arrived. These included a vegan ice cream called kulfi, and squares of chocolate sponge drizzled with chocolate sauce. Just as we thought we’d finally finished the feast, a third desert called seero arrived at our table. Seero is a sweet, soft dessert topped with sprinkled almond flakes. All three desserts were very nice, and thankfully, after the amount we’d eaten during the evening, not too heavy.
The meal finished shortly before midnight, and just before the final countdown to 2016 we all headed out into the street to watch Hansa’s firework display, with a glass of wine in one hand and a sparkler in the other.
I had a really nice evening at Hansa’s, where the food, atmosphere and hospitality were, as always, excellent. Happy New Year!
Hansas Gujarati Vegetarian Restaurant
72/74 North Street
Leeds LS2 7PN
Phone: 0113 2444408