The story behind Sheffield’s family-run, all-vegan Ajanta’s restaurant

Can you tell the story behind Ajanta’s?
We’ve been open around a year and four months. The recipes are from Ajanta’s grandmother and come from the Punjab region, and things like the chana dal chickpeas and lentils are big parts of the family Punjabi recipe landscape. We’d go to family parties with our own food and people would be bowled over; so much so that one friend half-jokingly asked us to stop bringing stuff as it showed theirs up! Comments like that did start to plant the seed a little, and we saw that we could provide a home-cooked style of Indian food, completely vegan and not as heavy as you might usually get from a takeaway, but more delicious and with an emphasis of doing a few things really well when it comes to the menu, rather than a hundred things not so well.

Any super popular dishes on the menu?
I’d say the dal is probably the main one, made using the family’s secret recipe for the sauce. People have responded really well to that. We’ve had a few people ask us how we make it and we’ve had to turn them down. It’s something that seems quite simple but there are a few secret elements behind getting it right.

Obviously, the coronavirus pandemic has been a tricky time for the restaurant industry. How have you managed to adapt to this?
Customers can collect from the restaurant if they order ahead, but City Grab has been really good for us and I think people really appreciate how it supports the local infrastructure and economy – the businesses and the taxi drivers.

What are the plans for Ajanta’s moving forward if lockdown continues to ease?
I think we’ll remain primarily a takeaway, but perhaps in a couple of months as lockdown eases we’ll have the option for people to safely sit in as well. We really like getting to know our customers and building up those relationships.

facebook.com/ajantasvegetarian // @ajantasvegetariansheffield

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