Check out Kanassa’s meat-free spin on Colombian cuisine at Leeds Kirkgate Market.
If you love Colombian food, check out the latest street food stall to open at Leeds Kirkgate Market. Kanassa is the brainchild of sisters Anna and Beth Shindler. They’ve adapted this traditionally meat-heavy cuisine to create an entirely veggie alternative. The result is a vibrant menu of flavour-packed dishes that offer a unique spin on South American favourites.
They were inspired by the arepa stands, tejo bars and rich produce that Anna experienced on her travels around Colombia. When she came back, she teamed up with her sister Beth and they started with a pop-up stall at GRUB MCR. After 18 months at foodie events around the UK, they’ve opened their first permanent space in the Market Kitchen. It’s a colourful stall, decked out in the reds, yellows and blues of the Colombian flag, so you can’t miss it.
“Leeds has a thriving independent scene, with so many fantastic food ventures and creative projects co-existing and collaborating with each other,” Anna explained. “That’s what Kanassa is all about, so Leeds couldn’t be a more perfect fit in that respect. Kirkgate Market is an extension of this – there’s a whole community of independent businesses with diverse offerings from all over the world, with different backgrounds and experiences thrown together under one roof, in the heart of a city we love.”
Their staple dish is one of the first they ever made, the Black Bean Arepa, a Colombian corn cake filled with Manchego cheese. It’s a hearty, warming bowl of food that comes on a bed of chipotle-spiced black beans, made with home-brewed chipotle paste and served with lime guacamole, salsa, coriander and chillies.
You can also get the corn cakes without the black beans or piled on top of one of their other dishes, like The Plantain, Sweet Paprika and Coconut Curry. It’s packed with big flavours or you can try their heaving Smoked Corn Tofu Bowl, which is dressed in a parsley chimichurri. Fancy a Colombian take on a pasty? Go for the Smoked Aubergine Empanadas. They stuff flaky cornflour pastries with charred aubergines and spiced potatoes, then serve them with tahini sauce, pomegranate, chimichurri and pickled radishes.
If you want to go all out, there’s one dish you absolutely have to try – the Big Colombian Brunch. It’s based on the popular Colombian dish ‘Bandeja Paisa’, also known as the Gut Buster, because of the sheer amount of food you get. Think of it like a Colombian take on the full English – it brings together fried egg, chipotle black beans, sticky fried plantain, cheesy arepas filled with Manchego, pineapple slaw, guacamole, salsa and chilli sauce to create one immensely tasty dish.
For now, drinks come in the form of Rio Tropical and San Pellegrino, but they’re going to add to their range in the future by introducing Club Colombiana beer, Aguardiente spirits and Espresso Colombianas (think espresso martinis). There will also be a range of soft drinks, like Cafe Tinto and fruit juices, including the immensely popular Postobon.
There are exciting times for Anna and Beth. Their journey as Kanassa has only really just begun, so get down to Kirkgate Market, find their stall and try those big flavours for yourself.
Kanassa, Leeds Kirkgate Market, 34 George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7HY.Cover image credit: © Copyright Leeds-List 2019 by Ali Turner