KARACHI: If you are living in Karachi and craving a Sindhi delicacy, an eatery has recently opened that may assuage your hunger.
The eatery, named the Sindh Café, is inside the National Museum of Pakistan and one can listen to soft traditional music while enjoying their food in a serene setting away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Aneesa Ali, who visited the café with her family to eat Hala Naka karhai, which is a specialty of Hyderabad, said the food was very similar to the original dish.
"Behh, saagh and chawran ji maani are the best items to try at the Sindh Café," she said. However, she complained that some seasonal food items were missing. To allay her concerns, the café's owner assured her that he would prepare the dishes when their ingredients are available in the market.
Another visitor, Muhammad, said that the café was a good initiative. He appreciated the owner's efforts to serve high-quality and hygienic food and for also being open to suggestions from his customers.
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Muneer Qamar, a poet who came to Karachi from Lahore, was of the view that the café was reminiscent of a rural setting, which was something very unique in a metropolis like Karachi. "It's a very simple, serene and peaceful setting. I feel calm here and am enjoying this traditional food," he said.
Many people were relishing their traditional food on cane chairs and takhts, surrounded by old trees. However, there were some who preferred to eat in the air-conditioned hall.
Waiter Imtiaz Ali Unar said it felt good to see people leave the café satisfied. He added that the café not only attracted Sindhis, but non-Sindhi customers also came to enjoy the traditional taste of Sindhi cuisine. Kuriro, beh, chawar ji mani and busri are the most popular dishes sought by all customers, he explained.
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According to Sindhi writer and poet Bakhshan Maheranvi, places like this create awareness about culture. "This is how people come closer and get to know about traditional Sindhi food and its rich culture," the writer said.
We have become regular customers here since the first week of its opening in April, said Sooraj Abbasi, who had come to the eatery with his friends. He was looking at the menu in English and Sindhi, wrapped in ajrak. He finally chose to eat busri, a roti filled with jaggery and coated with desi ghee, while his friends decided to order Sindhi biryani and chicken pulao.
Another customer, Adnan Memon, said he had taken his non-Sindhi friends to the café and they were very impressed with the quality of food and the café's traditional aura.
Sindh Café founder and owner AR Jamali is himself a chef. He has appeared in cooking shows on television and for a few years, he also worked as chef in Dubai. Now, he is dedicated to the café, where he is propagating Sindhi culinary art.
"My customers are not only Sindhis but from all ethnic groups residing in the city. It's my prime duty to attract them towards Sindhi food," Jamali told The Express Tribune, while giving orders to his staff to tend to the customers.
According to him, he tried to offer Sindhi food to his customers in a Sindhi ambience so that they could experience the rich culture of the province. The seating arrangement and folk music being played at the café showcase Sindhi culture, as does the attire of the waiters who wear Sindhi topis and ajrak waistcoats.
When asked where he got the idea to open a restaurant offering only Sindh traditional food in Karachi, Jamali asked, "We promote our language but why don't we do the same with our food?"
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According to him, people from all walks of life have been appreciating his venture and are trying the food items offered at the café, many of which are rarely offered at restaurants in Karachi. Jamali has also been working on a book on Sindhi recipes, which is in the final stages of its publication.
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