My story

Hello there, my name is Philip Mitchell and I’m the proprietor of Chaat Man Indian Deli

Chaat Man is the culmination of thirty years of experience delving deep into the world of authentic desi Indian cuisine. The catalyst of this life long passion started in 1992 on the island of Corfu, Greece when a fellow bar worker, Martin, offered to cook me an authentic Indian goat curry. Up until this point, I’d only eaten the odd British Indian takeaway and a few jars of supermarket curry sauce. But this goat curry, cooked with freshly roasted and ground spices, and slow-cooked over a fire, sent me to heaven!

Back home in the UK I remained friends with Martin and spent many weekends with him in Brighton cooking and eating the most amazing curries. As the years went by my knowledge grew and so did the realisation that I’d finally found my passion, Indian cuisine was going to keep me very entertained for the years ahead.

In 2001 I got married and became the cook of the house. As well as experimenting in Brighton, I was now creating my own curries in my own kitchen. And with the advent of the internet, I started researching further all the different styles of Indian cooking, how the food changed geographically, and where I could visit to hone my craft.

A year later I took my first trip to India. I spent time in Kerala and Tamil and became fascinated with their healthy vegetarian cuisine, the fish curries and the amazing banana leaf meals served with a multitude of dishes. Oh how Keralan cuisine ignited my passion further, I was in food heaven, and spent just as much time in the kitchens asking questions, as sitting outside eating!

Back home in the UK, I was becoming aware of just how awful most British Indian cuisine was. And how different it was from authentic desi Indian cuisine. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing Indian eateries in the UK and plenty of authentic places in large cities. But for the most part, British Indian restaurants serve food that is so far removed from real Indian cuisine that it became hard for me to spend my money when I knew I could cook better at home.

In 2003 I moved from West Sussex to Norfolk. Around this time our IVF had been successful and my first son Oliver was born. A few years later our second son Louie arrived. With a growing family and a lack of well-paid work, I decided to go self-employed and start my own window cleaning business. For ten years this became my focus. But between work, I was still busy in the kitchen learning everything I could about Indian cuisine. And almost every evening was spent on the internet researching, delving deep and then recreating in my kitchen.

In 2012 I started my first food business Gaia’s Kitchen. I concentrated on vegetarian and vegan cuisine selling Indian savouries, plant-based snacks and vac-packed curries at local farmers markets and food festivals all over the UK. In 2016 I sold my window cleaning business and went full time with Gaia’s Kitchen. Unfortunately, the food festivals were hit and miss, some you made a good profit, others were a waste of time. And so with a heavy heart, and an empty bank account, I took a break and reassessed my options.

A few months later I moved house, decided to trade locally only, and built a new brand serving meat, fish, veggie and vegan options. Within a year Chaat Man was doing well. I was selling Indian street food, chaat and curry at local farmers markets and getting plenty of return custom and recommendations. In 2019 things really took off with a few magazine articles, a growing customer base, and four successful markets under my belt. I was also hosting supper clubs and serving chaat at local festivals, food events and expos.

In 2020 I found a commercial kitchen on a farm in Rushall, just outside of Harleston, Norfolk. It was so perfect and came with a shop, a couple of chillers and a few basic steel catering counters. As soon as I moved I was visualising an Indian deli. In fact, I’d been visualizing such an idea for over a year and now here it was, I knew I was on the right track!

You can now find me at Beccles Farmers Market on the 1st & 3rd Saturday of the month, and at Lopham Farmers Market on the 4th Saturday. You can pre-order via our online shop and then collect at either our Indian Deli on a Friday or at a Saturday farmers market

Chaat Man Indian Deli will be opening soon to walk-in customers, please check out our blog or Facebook for further details.