New Delhi : A sight of the exquisitely plated biryani is enough to make you salivate, and then there’s the divine aroma of freshly roasted kebabs. If there’s one haven for food lovers at the India International Trade Fair (IITF), it’s the Al-Haj Bundu Khan stall from Pakistan.
“It’s the love of Indian foodies that draws me here again and again. Thousands have enjoyed our traditional kebabs, biryanis and Karachi halwas,” Shahid A. Bundu Khan of the Al-Haj Bundu Khan chain of restaurants said.
Khan, who has been coming to the capital for the trade fair since 2003, owns a chain of restaurants spanning Pakistan, Dubai and London.
The popularity of the kebabs could be judged by the rush of foodies, even on a business day.
“This is my first experience with Pakistani kebabs and I find them distinct. They are far more soft and less oily than what I’ve ever tasted,” said 22-year-old Amit Goel, a law student from south Delhi, while finishing off his second serving in front of Hall 6 of Pragati Maidan.
According to Khan, the authentic spices that he brings from across the border and his unique way of preparation make his kebabs irresistible.
“The authentic masala provides the best taste in the meat. Our special dish, khadai gosht, is prepared over a long period of time so that all the flavours are absorbed well,” Khan said.
“The rush is phenomenal on general days. All our 14 varieties of kebabs, biryanis and curries run out of stock fast, but we manage to feed everyone,” said Khan.
The man behind introducing many Indians to Pakistani delicacies added that while he sources masalas from across the border for the IITF stall, he buys the meat from the capital’s Ghazipur abattoir.
Though Khan claims that most of his kebab varieties find takers in India, he said people have a special thing for reshmi kebabs and chicken and mutton botis.
“Reshmi kebabs are my favourite. They are thin and filling. Then, I like roasted chicken leg pieces. I pity my vegetarian friends, they are missing a magnificent treat,” said Uttam Bhagat, 29, a visitor.
While the 70-member Pakistani delegation at the 31st IITF being held here is busy forging business relations for exports, Khan’s dilemma of feeding Indians with his wonderful delicacies is obvious.
“I have been approached many times to branch out to India. But now I feel that in some time, I may also open my own restaurant here,” he said.
And it’s not just the food that is in high demand, the ingredients from Pakistan are also disappearing off the shelves.
Four companies from across the border have brought with them a huge variety of masalas, pastes and spices.
“We have got in a container worth of masalas here. We do hope for a complete sell-off in the first 10 days. Last time also we sold off everything,” Habib Oil Mills marketing manager Mustafa Hassan Qureshi said .
Qureshi said so keen were Pakistani companies to cater to the Indian market that they tinkered with masalas to suit the desi taste.
“We have especially developed four to five types of masalas for the Indian market. They are pao bhaji, chole and curry masalas. The masalas can go well with vegetarian foods as well as non-veg food,” Qureshi said.
The IITF began Nov 14 and ends Nov 27.