A Day Out With Imran Jan
Kashmir – A childhood memory, a place I want to rest eternally, a food lover’s paradise and lastly my homeland. Having lived in Melbourne, Australia for the last fourteen years not a day passes by that I don’t miss Kashmir …its food, people, chaotic traffic and endless chit chat over Kehwa and nun chai.
Finally managed to take leave and reach Kashmir in August 2018. Only to be greeted to a garden full of apples. Bringing back memories of Melbourne of buying apples from supermarkets at $5 a kg half as juicy and delicious as Kashmiri apples. The convenience of just walking into the garden and plucking them yourself.
Only to be given Kehwa- by mom every morning- a ritual accompanied by a walnut brownie and dry fruits …talk about being spoilt… I so love being home. No other latte or a fancy cupcake can beat what mom serves me at home every morning around at 11am while I check my Instagram and update my Facebook. What a life I think.
My search for walnut brownie led me to find moonlight bakery and its walnut fudge. Can I say the mixture of walnut, honey and dates is to die for…! Located in Nigeen Lake near the famous Hazratbal shrine, it is thronged by locals and tourists alike to satisfy their cravings.
Finally, lunch is served and guess what, its Wazwan. Wazwan at home don’t need to dress up or wait… wallah..! I am in heaven…A short nap after lunch is a perfect way to settle things, suddenly when I get a call from my childhood friend Mursaleen as he says let’s check out the newest cafe in town CAFE LIBERTY I couldn’t say no. Why not I think since I’ve been following them on Instagram and checking out their posts drooling over their TUJJI (skewer in Kashmiri).
Cafe Liberty is located in Dr Ali Jan Complex .. A place where more shops are shut than open we find our way in waiting for a lift to take us up. The main entrance prominently displays the sign CAFE LIBERTY and a vintage Royal Enfield adorns the main entrance. I can’t resist taking a picture.
As we make our way in we are greeted by Bajaj Priya scooters, another icon that has faded away and brings back memories. We finally enter and see this huge collage of old radios on one side and cameras on the other. The cafe walls are decorated with old Hindi film posters , clocks , pictures and anything vintage ( even spotted a pair of wooden skies).
The cafe is more of a museum when it comes to artefacts which are present and it’s fun to have a look around. Even the furniture is vintage with 70s shades of velvet upholstery.
We finally look at the menu and decide to order the mutton tujji. It comes on a sizzling bed of hot charcoal and that smoky smell of the meat is hard to resist . Also a lavassa and mint, onion and radish chutneys are served with it. As I grab the meat from the skewer its tender, juicy and succulent. One is spoiled for choice which chutney to have with it… I personally love the mint. Conversations followed of our childhood between Mursleen and me and arguments who looked younger. Finally, the bill arrived in a Kangri which I simply loved.
We finally decide to call it a day. Looks like a dream I had been dreaming for the last three years came true.