However excellent Malcolm Michaels and Tarbett’s are, those first two suggestions will not appeal to an increasing percentage of the population. The rise in vegetarian and veganism is being gradually catered for in the national aisles with meat replacement products and such like, but in Kirkgate Market it is the fresh produce that stand out for veggies and indeed everyone else. Neil’s fruit and veg stocks a healthy selection of both, with an abundance of popular buys and bundles of rarities too, making it a go to greengrocer for many of the city’s eateries and eaters. Positioned nearby is an equally fine purveyor of fruit and veg, as well as exotic spices and herbs, The Spice Corner. African shops in Leeds city centre may not be omnipresent, but at this colourful space, the continent excels, along with Caribbean, Asian, and other worldly goodies. Yes, there’s bananas, apples and oranges, but there’s also plantain, jackfruit, ghee and dragon fruit, to really diversify that shopping list.
Another stall bringing the colours of the world to spice up your life is Rafi’s Spice Box. This family business create scrumptious spice blends and curry mixes, and also offer the fresh ingredients that make them. So you can pick up chillies, masala sauce and naan bread for a super standard curry, and to get the tastebuds tingling you can also try the lesser known, like moong dal, ajwain seeds, jaggery, cabbage slaw, jalapeсo jam and spiced tea.
Teapot Tea and Coffee showcase even further the vast range of flavours within these drinks that many still don’t venture into. The choice here is not between Tetley and Yorkshire, but is instead a display of astoundingly good and varied mixtures from around the globe. For black tea, they obtain rare leaves like Dianhong Jin Luo from Yunnan, and for coffee there’s aniseed beans, coconut flavours from Brazil, and plenty more exciting imports. There are other great offerings on the side too that you might not have tried yet, including the health rich ingredient bee pollen.
One ingredient you’d think is difficult to experiment with is bread. White or brown? Or that weird 50/50 packet? Except a visit to Bluebird Bakery suggests that loaves don’t have to look or taste like that. Here, they go much deeper; you don’t become unique by just choosing sourdough; you then decide between seven seeder sourdough or spelt. Or if that’s not unusual enough for you, try the Golden Kamut, if they can obtain he ancient organic ingredients at the time. Or if that’s not unusual enough for you, try The Borodinsky, named after the 1812 battle of Borodini in Moscow, and with coriander seeds representing shot pellets. Surely that’s unusual enough for everyone.
The list could go on, as more stalls sell special items that many may not have tried before, or offer them in a different way. For example, The Jar Tree is an environmentally friendly space stocked with pasta, rice, seeds and pulses to be weighed and taken plastic free. And delicacies from other nations continue at places like Polish shop Polskie Delikatesy. So if you want to take the repetitive and bland out of your shopping trip, and experience home cuisine with a difference, you know where to go: Kirkgate Market.