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Finger on the pulse

by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2008-10-07

Pulse food

Pulse food

Fancy swapping your lunchtime sandwich for something a little more exotic? Then head down to Pulse, a stand on London Bridge specialising in falafel, combined with some rather unusual ingredients. With dishes ranging from the classic houmous and falafel combo through to the Super Green wrap (one for spinach fans) and meze boxes, this is far removed from any falafel you'll have tasted before. Not only is it all prepared and cooked fresh on the premises, but there's a lot of emphasis on unusual spices and flavours, making this one falafel experience you'll want to repeat.

The brainchild of James Walters, who comes from a South London Jewish family and his Jordanian business partner Jad al Younis, Pulse grew from the pair's other venture, Arabica Food And Spice in neighbouring Borough Market.

We meet up with James to find out more.

How did you and Jad come to work together?
I met Jad the first day I came to Borough Market. I'd just come back from travelling in Australia and Asia, met this lovely couple from South London, we arranged to reunite at Borough Market, and that was the day I met Jad. We waved to each other for about a year, then one day I suggested we go for a drink – and gradually we started to discuss what good healthy food was about.  I began to help on the stalls at weekends and  loved it - the atmosphere, the stallholders were all so knowledgeable in their specialist areas.  We began to think of new ideas and a way we could become business partners and the rest was history. We opened Cafe Arabica near Notting Hill the following year - a natural extension of the stall -to great acclaim with rave reviews from Matthew Fort, Fay Maschler and Jay Rayner and we've been working together ever since.

What are your plans for the business?
Well,  I wanted to create a brand I thought we could expand to a wider marketplace. We have a great location on London Bridge but it's cold and blustery at this time of year so the past couple of months has been tough – we opened later than we wanted to. But the idea is that we're going to be expanding into doing lots of corporate lunches and then hopefully rolling out to larger sites in the City. The beautiful thing about our food is that it's not stodgy, it's very light. It puts a spring in your step.

Where do you get your ideas for ingredients and flavours?
I've been to Jordan three times but generally things don't change – the new flavours we have are things we come up with. The people out there are doing the same old traditional productions they've been doing for hundreds of years. It's how when we get them here we evaluate the different flavours and combine them to produce new ideas.

Have you always been interested in food and cooking?
Yeah. When I was eight I cooked my parents an anniversary meal. It consisted of a tin of Heinz tomato soup, pan fried sirloin steak, a tin of warmed petits pois and some sauté potatoes. My grandma called me Acanada horror - basically a nightmare and this kind of followed me into the kitchen.  I used to drive my Mum mad in the kitchen progressing from a sort of commis,  to head chef in my own sort of way. Mum  would have the ingredients for dinner ready, yet I would refuse to eat unless i could take my portion of the ingredients and create my own ideas of my perfect dinner.

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