About 10 years ago, I was lucky enough to go to Notting Hill Carnival. It was bright, loud and grimy – I loved it! The beats were relentless and the smells from the different street food vendors was overwhelmingly good – smokey, tangy and rich food smells coming at us from all directions as you wondered through the crowded streets.
At 22, I was accustomed to trying all sorts of new foods (new to me that is) and wasn’t afraid to order them but the Leeds food scene back then was infantile and so such things as Caribbean Curry Goat wasn’t exactly on the menu unless you got invited to a family home in Chapel Town for tea. Of course this fantastic, diverse carnival in London would offer all kinds of delights but for me the goat curry was intriguing enough.
It was green, which I found strange, but it was delicious. Similar to lamb but gamier. A similar consistency to an Indian curry but with a more middle eastern flavour. It was a completely new taste experience for me and made even more intoxicating by the surroundings of feathers, sequins and samba!
Until two weeks ago I’ve never been able to find anything similar. Until I went to my local town Carnival in Otley that is…
JJ’s Caribbean Cuisine, a Halal food van, greeted us as we entered the grassy carnival field, ready to peruse the festivities (colourful lorry floats, the annual dog show, stalls selling sheep herding gear – we do live in the country after all!). I must say it was a surprising choice of street food for the event given Otley’s general penchant for fish-and-chips-with-scraps, but we we’re straight over to JJ’s in a flash ordering our goat curry with rice and peas. Before I’d even eaten it I knew it was going to be delicious. I could tell from the vendors passion for the food and the smell of the steam cutting through the summer drizzle that it was going to be good.
Whilst queuing, I asked them if they’d considered Trinity Kitchen in Leeds, thinking they’d go down a storm there. They said they are applying for the next round of food van changes – so here is a message to say GOOD LUCK JJ’s, I will definitely look out for you at future events and visit for more scrummy goat curry when you get your spot in Trinity Kitchen!