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Kirkgate Market’s Best Kept Secrets

· Ali Turner · Food and Drink

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Everyone knows the Kirkgate Market is a great place to get fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish – but it has a few surprises in store too.

When you think of Kirkgate Market, you probably think of colourful stalls filled with seasonal vegetables, iced fish, and of course, butchers with some of the finest meat around. But if you delve a little deeper into the market, you’ll find it has a lot more than stereotypical market stalls, so let us introduce you to a three of the Kirkgate’s best kept secrets.

Spice Corner

Spice Corner

When it comes to seasoning, Spice Corner is the place to go. This colourful little stall has been tucked away in the market for thirty years – yet few people seem to know about it, more’s the pity.

You won’t have any trouble spotting the stall, it’s decked out in spices, with bags of the stuff from the canopy, along with bunches of dried chillies. And you can rest assured it’s not just the usual stuff.

“We have a lot of different types of chillies from all over the world, whether smoked ones or just dry.” Owner Sarida Koheeallee told us, “All different spice from all over the world.” As you can imagine, they come in mighty handy when you’re cooking Asian, South American or African dishes – and even Jamie Oliver has treated himself to their wares.

As well as the spices, which will keep for years, they also sell exotic fruit and vegetables, and there’s one that’s particularly popular. “We have Aloe Vera, Aloes, people use them for the jelly inside. These aren’t the natural Aloe Vera you can grow in your house, this is the natural Aloe Vera from a tropical island.” Koheeallee told us, “People use for hair, to drink, it’s good for your body, it’s good for everything.”

Café Moor

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You might go to Kirkgate Market to shop, but do you ever go there to eat? You should give it a go, because they’ve got some cracking little cafes and street food vendors for you to try, one of which is Cafe Moor.

This intriguing little venue offers a mix of North African and Middle Eastern street food, with everything from shawarma to boureks, not to mention baklava and sallou. It’s different to anything else you’ll find in the city centre, and that’s what makes it so interesting – Nour Ghanen told us, “It’s because it’s something different, it’s new to people, they aren’t used to this food.”

But what should you order? Well, the most popular dish on the menu is the Chicken Shawarma, which sees marinated chicken wrapped up in Arabic bread with garlic sauce, pickles and salad. But if you fancy something different, Nour Ghanen recommends the Lamb Bourek – “it’s filo pastry filled with lamb and goats cheese.” Give it a try next time you’re in the market.

Firth & Payne

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It’s not unusual to find a bakery in a market, but this one is a little bit special. Of course, you can nip in for a freshly baked cake to curb that sweet tooth, but they can also whip you up a beautiful wedding cake or a jaw-dropping birthday cake.

Just imagine having perfectly iced Minions for your little one’s birthday or a cute as you like teddy bear for your baby shower – and they taste as good as they look.

“The cakes are freshly made by a local bakery, before they’re sent out to the customer,” Cathy Bennett told us. “People can be original, and come with their own ideas, or they can look at our books of designs. Sometimes they even come with their own pictures.”

As well as birthdays, they also do wedding cakes – and true to Kirkgate’s form, they’re surprisingly affordable. “For a three tier, all sponge, they start off at £140.” Bennett explained, “The more intricate with decorations, get more and more expensive.” You’ll probably want to get it booked well ahead of time, but if you’re let down by your baker, it’s good to know that you only need to give a few weeks notice.

Know somewhere else that doesn’t get the attention it deserves in Kirkgate Market? Tell us in the comments…