If you like a tasty Falafel then you will already know about Saed Alazza and his bright red food cart that is usually located on the corner of Trafalgar and Bridge Streets, well it was located there.
Saed has relocated his business to become a permanent part of the growing food cart business scene in Kirby Lane, he has added a new twist to his food offering. As well as the traditional falafels that you love so much he has added a small charcoal grill to the end of his cart so he can grill mixed beef and lamb skewers as well as serving his traditional falafel.
Saed is originally from Palestine where he trained for two years as a chef before working in a local restaurant where they served Middle Eastern and European dishes. He migrated to New Zealand in 2017 with his Kiwi wife, Sunniva , who is a doctor at Nelson Hospital.
Saed told me New Zealand and Nelson are completely different worlds to where he grew up in what has essentially been a refugee camp since 1948, he lived there in dangerous times, “it is very difficult to live there, there’s no future, you plan day to day to survive, my family still live in the refugee camp. They are still waiting to return home after Israel invaded in 1948.”
He told me that over the years people have built homes rather than living in tents but those homes are very small and very close together with very little space, “now the camp and Bethlehem are surrounded by the separation wall, which means people aren’t allowed to go to Jerusalem. Sometimes they are not allowed to travel between other cities in the West Bank.
“Living under occupation is different, our son is lucky because he was born here and won’t know some of the things our family had to go through.”
When Saed left Palestine he brought is homemade falafel recipe with him, falafels that are made using chickpeas and that means they are also vegan friendly. He blends and roasts his own spice mix, makes his own aioli sauce without using eggs and his homemade hummus is vegan friendly too. “Everyone can have this falafel, some people make it from fried beans and use other things, everyone has their own recipe.”
Adding the mini charcoal grill has allowed him to include a delicious meat option that is enhanced by using his own spice mix in the meat blend, to his small but nicely crafted Middle Eastern menu that also includes sweet treats like baklava made with pistachio nuts.
Saed says Kirby Lane is a good place to be but town is very quiet at the moment. “With more people working from home and no tourists around it would be nice if locals came to town more to support all local businesses and tried my food too.”
First published in The Nelson Mail 26.08.20