• Publish Date: May 20 2019 4:41AM
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  • Updated Date: May 20 2019 4:41AM

Iftar is the time of the day when people in Kashmir generally rush towards their homes. No longer.  An increasing number of people, mostly youth, prefer to break their fast  at a restaurant.

Yawar Reshi and Irfan Qadir, both chartered accountants, are the young Kashmiris who  would rather enjoy the Iftar at a restaurant than at home. They believe Iftar outings with their friends give them moments of joy in a place often marred by desolation.

 “This is something different. We feel like a bit relaxed to spend time amongst our friends,” says Qadir waiting at a Srinagar restaurant along with Reshi for other friends to arrive. “It gives us a sense of bonding . We not only break our fast but share thoughts as well”.  

Like Reshi and Qadir, Anwar Hussain has also arrived along with his wife and two daughters at a city restaurant to break their fast. A doctor by profession, Hussain wants to give a feeling of the blessed month to his two daughters.

“At least children should feel that this month is something very special,” says Hussain, while feeding fruits to one of his daughters Noorain.  “I want my children to get a feel of this blessed month.

Though breaking fast in restaurants in Kashmir is not something new to Kashmir - many office goers including wealthy businessmen, senior government employees are often seen enjoying lavish Iftar parties - the trend has caught on with Kashmiris. Ordinary people too have started coming to restaurants to break their fast with their family or friends.

The restaurants in city are also encashing on the trend by offering special Iftar packages. Not only food but at certain places, due arrangement is made for prayers.

Some of the restaurants in the city including 7C’s Café and Fine Dine restaurant shut their businesses during the day, and open exclusively to serve meals for Iftar only.

Bashir Ahmad, manager at the restaurant, claims that they were first to introduce concept of Iftar outings in Kashmir.

“It’s concept which we have introduced from Saudi Arabia where restaurants in cities such as Jeddah, Mecca and Medina open exclusively for Iftar only,” Ahmad said. Ahmad has worked in Middle East’s hotel industry before returning to Kashmir.

The restaurant has introduced three course Iftar meal with Kashmiri Nun chai (salt tea). The Iftar outings in the city restaurants can be lavish and cost in thousands. However, there are various outlets which offer special Ifar meals ranging from Rs 300 to Rs 800.

Some restaurant owners say that Iftar outings have brought them good business. Take the case of Mohammad Ashraf, working as caterer cum manager at Zero Bridge Fine Dine Café, the restaurant housed inside Tourism Department’s houseboat replica. At afternoon, Ashraf is still busy cleaning the leftovers from last evening’s Iftar event at the restaurant.

“We are offering five non-veg varities in a seven course Iftar meal at nominal rate. Besides, we also offer post meal sweet dish,” says Ashraf, while tucking tissue papers in the stand at a table.

Some restaurants such as Goodfellas also offer non vegetarian dishes from Central Asia for which people have to shed some extra bucks. And there are customers for it.

There is also a section of population  with a big appetite for Kashmiri wazwan. On an average Samci Rivera restaurant at Rajbagh receives half a dozen bookings for wazwan course meal.

“The rates of meals can go from Rs 3000 to Rs 4000 for a group of four to six people on a normal day. In this blessed month, we give a special rebate,” says Bilal Ahmad, accountant at the restaurant.  

There are places such as Café De Polo where groups of friends including journalists and officials have some moments of leisure, while breaking their fast. This is what Usra, manager at the restaurant has observed in the initial days of the blessed month, after launching special Ramzan offer.  

Meanwhile, two infant girls Laaibah and Maaha have made a cheerful smiley out of the snacks at a Srinagar restaurant, while their father Dr Aabid Mir looks at them in appreciation.

“This is what I want on their faces, joy,” says overwhelmed medico from Srinagar’s old city, perhaps, echoing the wishes of every parent in Kashmir.