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Dentist schooled in Dungannon now filling a gap in the Indian savoury snack market

By John Mulgrew

Dentist Kumar Kolar, who was educated in Co Tyrone, has left his top-flight job behind to follow his passion for his mother's traditional Indian snacks.

The 33-year-old spent much of his youth at the Royal School in Dungannon.

But after pursuing a career in dentistry, he gave up the profession to follow his own family foodie journey.

He's now living outside Sheffield, where he sells a variety of the traditional Indian snacks into top spots across the UK, including the Tate Modern in London.

And his Karkli snacks have just been launched here in Northern Ireland, with bars such as Brewbot already stocking the product.

"Karkli is a traditional snack throughout India, and it's something my grandmother was making," he said.

The crisp and crunchy snacks are made from mung beans, alongside some rice flour to bind - then deep-fried, and dusted with spiced flavouring.

And they are both vegan and gluten free.

"It was something my mum was making since we were little kids, and I loved the flavours.

"This was always my thing. It has a great crunch to it, the mild flavour means you can just keep eating.

"I went to school in Dungannon, did my GCSEs there. My dad is a doctor, and he had a job over there and totally fell in the love with the place."

After finishing school, he moved back to England with his family, before studying dentistry in Leeds.

But after a seven-year career, he turned his talents elsewhere, and just last year finally started making karkli full time.

"I worked as a dentist, and just got really bored of it. I was interested in lots of things at school, such as technology and computer science.

"I was also really interested in maths, and a teacher at the Royal really got me in to that."

But his idea to turn his love in to a business kicked off during time with his family a couple of years ago.

"A couple of Christmases ago I was talking to my brothers and we were saying there are no quality Indian snacks around.

"Indian food is becoming well-known, with people moving away from generic and bland food, people are becoming more aware of street food and southern Indian food.

"People in India love to snack, and each area of India has a great variety."

Kumar has already garnered serious attention for his snacks, and has now expanded to a small production facility. He's also been selling his product at beer festivals across the UK.

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