New Delhi— People in Kashmir valley caught up in inherited uncertainties, have almost forgotten Khyen Chyen (literally eating and drinking). In 2016 entire wedding season was consumed by the turmoil forcing people to do away with their cherished heritage cuisine Wazwan.
Anyway the rich tradition of Wazwan on Dastarkhwan is slowly fading away — thanks to neo-riches of Kashmir who appear to be obsessed with the alien buffet system– our homely foods also called grandma’s recipes too are disappearing fast.
But hold on. All is not lost. One Kashmiri is out to resurrect the all old recipes we were once proud of.
Buzith Gaad, Talith Gaad, Buzith Tczaman, Buzith Hyderr, Seekh Tujh is all available now not in Kashmir but in posh malls of New Delhi and Gurgaon thanks to the creative mind of Nasir Andrabi.
Yes Andrabi’s “Khyen Chyen” outlets at Select CITYWAK of Saket in South Delhi and DLF Phase-4 Gurgaon are a big draw.
Nasir Andrabi, originally from Baghaat Srinagar, equipped with an MBA from Cardiff University (UK) and 10 years work experience from London and Singapore, left his banking career to make Kashmiri food available to the wider world and ultimately, as he says to Kashmiris themselves.
“I decided to call it quits with the banking thing and rush back home”, Nasir told Kashmir Observer. All this while, his work took him different parts of the world. “I’d always eat food from different parts of the world. One thing I always realized that our very own food, especially Wazwan, stands out from the rest and you wouldn’t get it anywhere in the world. It pained me to see that such rich and tasty food wasn’t available anywhere in the world, though it’s available in many parts like London and Singapore but only in bits and pieces. This was the inspiration to start something away from Kashmir that would smell like Kashmir—introducing people from different parts of the world to Kashmiri food”, says Nasir.
Since my schooling happened in Delhi, I knew the place well and because of the proximity to Srinagar, the main thing is to have your chefs (Waza) travel between Kashmir and Delhi easily.
In all we’ve a team of 14 wazas, eight of them master chefs. We stick to the traditional means only. We’ve a 3000 Sq Ft kitchen in Gurgaon where we prepare all the dishes of the course from authentic Kashmiri spices such as chillies, cockscomb, turmeric and saffron.
Dishes By Their Real Names
Everything at our outlets is 100 percent Kashmiri which is why we chose the vernacular names for our items.
Besides Wazwan courses of Rogan Josh, Daniwal Korma, Tabakh Maaz, Rista, Meyeeth, Aab Gosht and Goshtaab there is an array of traditional home foods like Buzith Gaad, Talith Gaad, Buzith Tczaman, Buzith Hyderr, Waze Kokur, Buzith Kokur, Talith Kokur, Seekh Kabab, Seekh Tujh, Shami Kabab, Kehwa, Babre Beyol, and much more.
Serving an example, Nasir says, “when we talk about Masala Dosa , there’s a place called Saravana Bhavan in India. They have been running around for over 100 years and the name Masala Dosa would straightaway take you to this place. Similarly, my idea is 15 years down the line if somebody looks at the name Goshtaba, it shouldn’t occur to him that it’s the name of a spherical meat ball but it should remind him of Kashmir”.
We’ve people coming to visit our place from around the country and abroad as well. Kashmiris do visit here but they mostly come here during the winters. When we started our outlet in DLF Gurgaon first, we used to have 5 to 10 tables a day and now we do about 100 tables a day.
In the Select CITYWALK, we’re visited by over 3000 people a day. Besides, we get a lot of queries from Dubai and US with a request that whether we could send them food across. We get huge online ordering as well and we’ve an efficient home delivery system in place, Nasir says with pride.
“Besides being in the food business from which I earn, I’m happy that using food as the medium I’m able to take a little bit of Kashmir to Delhi. This is a favourite place for Kashmiri Pandits as well who visit here regularly. You can’t stop them seeing crying when they eat out here and turn nostalgic. I think that is the biggest takeaway for me at the end of the day.
Buoyed by the response Nasir plans to open many more outlets of Khyen Chyen. “Perhaps our first international foray will be in Singapore, Inshallah”, Nasir said adding, “We are on a look out for young people from Kashmir who wish to make a career in hospitality industry”.