Selling khringo (Moroccan churros) and tea out of a 23-year-old VW Beetle, Souhel Mohammed tells what makes his story different Sharjah, May 08, 2023
Fancy some piping hot, flavoursome street foods from Cassablanca? Then here’s another reason why you should be headed to the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF), running at Expo Centre Sharjah until May 14.
However, if you asked Souhel Mohammed – who runs Fikrah Jadeeda out of a refurbished light green 2000 VW Beetle – he will tell you exactly why his food is just one part of his whole story. “We are the first and perhaps the only Moroccan street food outlet in the country that serves churros and tacos just as you would get on the streets of Casablanca, but what makes us unique is how we serve it,” says the man from Morocco’s largest city who has been selling the Spanish-styled fried choux pastry dough, piped into hot oil, at his car-turned-café throughout the 12-day event along with his 18-year-old son Elghali.
“We call it Khringo and we do it our way. It’s easy to mistake them for typical Spanish churros because we are not that far away from Spain – geographically and often culturally. But our churros are different and what makes them so is the mix of ingredients,” he says while explaining how other items on his menu at the SCRF come with that ‘Moroccan twist’. “Just like our tacos that come in three varieties – cheesy, French and chicken – all of which you can wash down with our special Moroccan tea,” quips the Moroccan who first came to UAE in the late nineties to develop business as a master franchisor for a French chocolate company.
“That was the only connection I had with food, whatsoever, until I started my company in 2015,” says the 51-year-old father of four who began Fikrah Jadeeda (new ideas) only eight years ago to bring food from his home closer to the people of UAE. “Today we have two such car cafes under the banner. Both converted from old Beetles. One has a permanent home in Sharjah’s Al Shaab Village and the other one, the prototype, goes around town spreading love, cheer with good, warm food,” he explains the modus operandi of his unique food business model.
“But the start of it all has a funny history,” Mohammed reminisces about the early days of My Churro. “It began with a pesky neighbour who would always invariably park in my space until one day I felt so enraged that I wanted to cut open his car. And that’s where I got my spark. I carved our first restaurant out of my wife’s 15-year-old VW Beetle and then there was no looking back,” he said with a smile.
“When I finally found a mechanic who could do the job (of converting the Beetle), I realised he spoke only Urdu while I didn’t understand any of it. We got down to it the ‘UAE way’, with a little bit of Arabic and Urdu, and here we are today.”