Suraj Lama, who formerly worked as a driver for Bollywood stars like Sonakshi Sinha and Shahid Kapoor, is now drawing street food lovers by the dozens with his on-the-move pop-up stall that serves momos. His wife Vijayata, who was cook at singer Shibani Kashyap's home until last month, also quit her job to support her husband's new venture
Suraj Lama, who formerly worked as a driver for actress Sonakshi Sinha, can now be seen travelling on his cycle in the by-lanes of Lokhandwala, Versova, Seven Bungalows, and other pockets of Andheri West every evening. He sells a plate of momos for Rs 40 (veg) and Rs 50 (non-veg) each. Pics/Sneha Kharabe
Move over Anna, the Lama has arrived to win the hearts (and stomachs) of Mumbai's street food lovers. Former celebrity driver Suraj Tamang Lama, who originally hails from the village of Mirik in Darjeeling, has become a hot favourite among Versova and Yari Road residents ever since he quit his day job last month to sell momos (dumplings) on a cycle.
"I was not happy doing the driver's job. And, with Uber and Ola expanding their business, the demand for a private driver was going down," said Lama, who has worked as a driver for Bollywood actors like Sonakshi Sinha and Shahid Kapoor. "I love making momos and it reminds me of home. When I first made Sonakshi Sinha try them, she loved them. I knew they were good, but, I wasn't sure if others would enjoy them too," he added.
When other Bollywood celebrities started devouring his fare, Lama, who has worked as a driver for nearly 25 years, realised it was time to switch business. He opened his new pop-up stall on his cycle on March 1.
Without revealing his secret recipe, Lama says, “My momos are just like my mother's. I follow her recipe. I don't use preservatives or artificial colouring. A lot of people have told me that they taste like Delhi's momos, but, they are really a taste of my hometown.”
A plate of Suraj's delicious momos
While he would barely earn Rs 20,000 as a driver each month, he now, makes around R700 every day. Currently, Lama sells a plate of six momos for Rs 40 (veg) and Rs 50 (non-veg). “It's tiring, yet satisfying. I hope to open a shop soon. If people support me, it can happen.” said Lama.
But, Lama hasn't scripted this success story alone.
His wife Vijayata, who was cook at singer Shibani Kashyap's home until last month, also quit her job to support her husband's new venture. “We have given up our work for this business, and if it is not received well, we could lose a lot. Nevertheless, we are hopeful,” said Vijayata.