Souqs Curry Mid-east Flavour in Ahmedabad

09:09:00


Parvez and Arsheen Kazi remember how they started a small vegetarian café in November 2009 called Café Souq, specialising in Arabic cuisine. “While the café started out as a passion rather than a business, I did not realise a day would come when Souq would become a brand in Ahmedabad that evokes visions of Mid-Eastern and Mediterranean food,” says Arsheen. Today, there are three Souqs —Souq Restaurant, Café Souq and Souq Bistro and Grills, around the Gujarat capital.

Parvez says in 2009, Ahmedabad had mostly multi-cuisine restaurants and a handful focused on Indian cuisine. He says, “I was born in Dubai and lived most of my life in the middle-east. Arsheen is from Mumbai and learnt Arabic cooking when she came to Dubai. When I got posted at the Ahmedabad office of an airline company, Arsheen felt the city needed a restaurant with middle-eastern food, specially because we know many Gujaratis visit the region and enjoy the food there. Arabic, Lebanese, Moroccan and Turkish cuisines also offer a good choice of vegetarian dishes, which we felt would work in Ahmedabad.”They started with the tiny Café Souq with its simplistic décor and casual vibe. “This was a pure vegetarian restaurant. Since pizza is very popular in Gujarat, we started out with Manaeesh, which is popular in Levantine cuisine, Mezze Platter, Falafel, Pita bread sandwich, Fatouche Salad, Machboos, Awam and Banana Saj. We also introduced hummus with mushrooms and zucchini. While the café attracted creative professionals in the afternoon because of its proximity to premium architecture and design colleges, we found that most people in Ahmedabad dine out and Café Souq was too small to cater to them.” So was born Souq The Restaurant in a shopping complex on Vijay Crossroads. Café Souq was re-established in the food court of AlphaOne Mall. “We introduced Lebanese Sizzlers which have proved quite popular as have the baked dishes from the Mediterranean countries. We have even introduced onion and garlic free Falafal and Hummus for Jain patrons,” says Parvez.
Souq The Restaurant has bold Egyptian figures and middle-eastern motifs outside announcing the Arab cuisine. The interiors also have touches of the Arabic-speaking world. On offer is Harissa or Chermoula Kebabs in chicken or paneer served with couscous, rice or pita, Kibbey, Shish Tawook, Turkish Patlican Kebab, Kebab Koobideh, Shawarma, Felafel and Saj among starters. “But most visitors come for the Mezze Platter. Soups like Lentil and Spinach, Tarhana Courbasi and Harira are also liked,’’ says Arsheen.
Inspired by the success of their restaurants, Parvez began to look at expanding. “A new company called Bon Viva was floated with  Kitchen Xpress Overseas Ltd, and its subsidiary Silver Apple Catering, and our first venture is a restaurant named Souq Bistro and Grills. We found that in Gujarat, eating out is key entertainment. Souq Bistro and Grills is designed as a restaurant that offers entertainment as well—a runway has been created for live performances, with daily guaranteed entertainment,” explains Parvez.
Having seen their brand grow, Arsheen says they are now looking beyond restaurants. “We propose to start quick selling outlets for Turkish and Lebanese confectionery, baked goods and fast moving  food items,” she reveals. Bon Apetit to that.

Source: www.newindianexpress.com

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