East meets West: Cranberry chai cupcakes, anyone?

Kausar Z Ahmed launches catering service with novel food tasting.


Sohrab Anklesaria July 23, 2011

KARACHI:


The Sangria didn't have any red wine but the Mint and Mango Chai did have punch. In fact, the entire menu introduced by Kausar Z. Ahmed for the launch of her catering business Kitchen Craft had a certain kick to it.


The turnout was robust for the novel idea of a food tasting, held at Act One on Friday by IDEAS Events PR. The large room was packed with elegantly dressed matrons and yummy mummies with their Gucci clutches and over-sized LV shoulder bags. "[The event is] a breath of fresh air in these terrible times," dripped one guest.

The idea for the business began when Ahmed was in Los Angeles where her daughter inspired her to promote Pakistani food. She attended cooking classes at a French restaurant and soon began to work under one of the head chefs. After twenty years of gastronomic experience, she decided that it was time to return to her city of origin. Kitchen Craft will cater appetisers, local and western cuisine as well as desserts and boxed lunches for meetings and conferences. It was a shame though that the menu did not mention the prices, which the organisers said could be solicited over the telephone later.

The Bruchetta and Feta Biscuits were popular with guests, who admired the tangy, cheesy dollop smeared on a square of pita bread. The hors d'œuvres were presented on long wooden, mirrored serving trays and included petite tomato quiches, avocado chicken pinwheels wrapped in thin chapati and mochaccino cupcakes. "Kitchen Craft is about more than just food, it is about a whole new lifestyle. It is about culture, community, and concord," Ahmed said.

The business of food is a serious one, at least in Karachi. The cupcakes business, home delivery and made-to-order specials have thrived. Cupcakes fancier than Buckingham palace can be ordered for Rs150 a pop and are popular at high-end children's birthday parties. During the recent strike, one catering business made Rs250,000. Mrs Azra Syed just launched her cookbook and one woman in Gizri has people lining up at her door for her Peking Duck wraps and Strawberry Roulade.

Ahmed thus joins a long line of budding entrepreneurs who understand that the market is virtually unlimited. After the appetizers were washed down with a fruity mock Sangria punch, Kausar told the media  that she had taken on a group of young protégés to teach them Pakistani-Western fusion food, ensuring perhaps that people enjoying the good food today have future chefs to delight in as well.



Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2011.

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