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Food start-ups: redefining local cuisine

Updated July 09, 2016

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Among the many things that add to the joy of Eid is food. Thanks to new food start-ups this year, there is a variety of ‘fusion food’ deals to try out.

One of them is Awesamosas, which offers sweet and savoury samosas in several exciting flavours, taking Pakistan’s favourite snack to a whole new level.

“Our favourite thing about Awesamosas is putting smiles on people’s faces when they eat our samosas,” revealed Daniyal Noorani and Seemi Sani, founders of the start-up. “Especially when a person is skeptical about the samosas and then becomes a fan... that is the most fulfilling thing.”

The samosas are available in savoury and sweet flavours. The savoury treats include the smoky ‘Dam Ka Qeema’ (ground beef and onions), the scrumptious ‘Pizza’ and the cheesy ‘Caramelised Onion’. While the sweet options feature the classic ‘Apple Pie’, the delightful ‘Reese’s’ (chocolate peanut butter) and the rich, smooth ‘Chocolate S’more’, a mouth-watering mix of marshmallows and chocolate.

The best part is that the flavours are not limited, but new ideas are regularly introduced as part of their menu. For example, during Ramazan, Awesamosas sold ‘Hyderabadi Aloo’ filled samosas and are soon expected to introduce ‘Manchurian’, ‘Banana Chocolate Chip’ and ‘Butter Chicken’ flavours. Additionally, to complement the 'awesome' samosas, they will be offering tea and ice cream at their new outlet.

For Eid, Awesamosas were offering three dozen frozen samosas for only Rs2,000, a deal which the customers could book over the phone or by simply visiting their store in Cavalry Area. According to Seemi, the response was overwhelming.

“The Eid deal was great! A bunch of people stocked up for the occasion,” she said.

Another popular item, naan is no longer just a flatbread. Today, eateries such as Maro Tandoors have developed flavored naans, which are available in both savoury and sweet flavours. These naans may not exactly complement your standard gravies and curries, but on their own, they are a hearty snack any time of the day.

The flavours are divided into ‘Maro Specials’ and ‘Novelty Naans’. ‘Maro Specials’ feature Chicken Tarragon, Chicken Teriyaki, Chicken Achari, Hotnut, Snickers and Steak and Cheese naans, while ‘Novelty Naans’ include Nutella, pizza and cheese naans.

To this day, Maro Tandoors’ Nutella Naan remains the most popular item on their menu and the brand takes pride in calling themselves ‘the home of the Nutella Naan’, being pioneers in coming up with the idea. After Maro’s initial success, other brands such as ‘Mr Sheeda’ and ‘The Naan Stop’ also followed suit with flavoured naans. These brands are adding variety by experimenting with flavours such as olive, jalapeno, sausage and dry fruit.

Maro Tandoors’ menu also consists of additional items, including their new cookie-sized naans and flavoured lassis among other drinks. They were open all three days of Eid, offering their popular ‘Some You Can Eat’ deal and according their Chief Executive Officer, Ali Ahmed, it was a huge success.

“It was fantastic, by the Grace of God. Sales increased significantly and the promise of unlimited naans proved to be a great hit with our customers,” he exclaimed.

Talking about his future plans, Ali said: “Our future plans are quite simple: we will not rest until we have established ourselves as the biggest local food chain in Pakistan!”

Some initiatives such as The Manji Munch are playing safe by offering a menu with both traditional and fusion food items.

“The idea behind Manji Munch was to make a place where you can enjoy the yummylicious, clean, heavy-on-stomach, light-on-pocket food without the tension of suiting, booting and make- up shake-up. Hence, the name featuring a traditional piece of furniture found in villages,” explained Usman Wali, the founder of Manji Munch.

The menu consists of freshly prepared dishes such as karahi, BBQ, nihari and halwa puri along with flavoured naans and the lesser-known yet much-loved Afghani burgers. Originally from Afghanistan, Afghani burgers are an interesting example of fusion cooking. The fast food wrap consists of French fries, meat – chicken or beef, chutney and vegetables, rolled up in Afghani bread.

On Eid, The Manji Munch remained open, especially for their special halwa puri-lassi breakfast deal. Shedding light on the response, Usman said: “The response, well, Lahoris never disappoint!”

Overall, with their attractive social media marketing campaigns featuring truck art/pop culture designs and punchy one-liners, the brands’ primary focus remains the youth, which is always open to experimentation. They also offer home delivery, dine-in and take away options and their prices are affordable, catering to the two most important aspects of life: time and money.

However, as these ideas continue to become popular, more and more people are jumping on the fusion food bandwagon by experimenting with items such as tea. Thus, we may not be able to predict what lies ahead for fusion cooking in this region, but what we certainly know is that these new brands have successfully managed to achieve the arduous task of redefining the local classics -- and we surely can’t wait to see what they have in store next.

Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2016