Muhummed Ibrahim: Leicester's Chai Pioneer

Chaiiwala is a fast-growing brand speeding towards global success.

Today, there are six Chaiiwalas in Leicester, 76 in the UK, six in Canada and one in Dubai. There are plans to open 25 more in the UK in 2023, 400 in the Middle East and 40 in Canada. The brand will soon hit the USA, too. Yet Chaiiwala began life in a converted bin store on Leicester’s Evington Road, co-launched in 2015 by Leicester-born Muhummed Ibrahim when he was just 29.

“Making chai runs in my family’s blood,” Muhummed says, recalling how his great-grandfather sold chai – a traditional Indian tea made from a blend of black tea, spices and milk – in New Delhi in the 1920s. A trained pharmacist, Muhummed believes the art of making proper chai is being lost due to the fast-paced nature of modern life. He is passionate about the importance of steeping chai for at least 40 minutes to achieve the perfect cup, a practice followed at every Chaiiwala branch by pre-brewing so that the drink is in excellent condition whenever anyone orders.

Despite the initial scepticism of many, Muhummed persevered, opening the first Chaiiwala by converting a bin store on Evington Road into a shop. It was an instant hit and soon customers were demanding Indian street food to complement their chai, leading Muhummed and his team to enlist their mothers’ help in preparing family recipes. As the business grew, the mothers stepped back, and Chaiiwala expanded its team and street-food offering.

Despite his global success, Muhummed remains modest, down to earth and loyal to his hometown. “I love Leicester; it’s our home, and most of our recruitment comes from the city. So we’re proud of our roots,” he says from his HQ a stone’s throw from the King Power Stadium on Freemens Common.

Muhummed Ibrahim and Chaiiwala are revolutionising the chai experience, proving that dedication to quality and tradition can transform a simple idea into an internationally recognised sensation.

  1. chai food
    With roots that go back to Delhi in 1927, Chaiiwala is a Leicester success story expanding worldwide. The six branches around the city serve a great range of chai: warming cups of fragrantly-spiced tea and coffee. But they also offer tasty street food, including Indian classics such as pani puri, aloo tikki and what you might call fusion dishes – chilli chip butties and samosa burgers!
    1. 1 Jan 202431 Dec 2024