Kashmiri On Invitation

A Kashmiri Kandur Bread Experience at Orzuv Hub

Sunday, August 20, 2017ruthdsouzap

This story first appeared on FoodLovers 

While all of Kashmir is still sleeps, the lights flicker on in the neighbourhood Kandurs (bakeries) that dot the streets at regular intervals. The large clay tandoor, built into the ground and deep enough to hold the average sized man, is fired up in anticipation of the thousands of loaves of bread that will be slapped onto its walls during the course of the day. By 5.30AM, the shutters on these bakeries are rolled up – baskets and wooden display shelves are filled with morning breads like Girda and Czochworu, its aroma wafting through the air. Male members of families make their way to Kandurs at these early hours to pick up for families and relatives living close by. The kandurs shut shop by around 8.30AM when their stocks are depleted and catch up on some sleep till noon, when the tandoors are fired up again and the evening breads are rolled, layered, shaped and baked. By 4PM, every household in Kashmir sits down to tea with the family, sipping on namkeen chai, sharing Bakarkhani and Roth, and very simply catching up! No Kashmiri household is without its share of breads and never are these breads made at home.
Saba Bhat, the proprietor of Orzuv Hub, a Kashimiri Café in Whitefield brings the experience of a Kandur to Bengaluru. Housed in a bungalow, typical of old school Whitefield, the vast compound has an open air café and a customized clay tandoor, which doesn’t do 1000 breads at one go, but does enough to have your nose propel you past the gates. “Working in a Kandur is a family profession and boys begin learning the ropes of the trade when they are in school,” says Saba who has just such a person manning the tandoor.

 A look at the beautiful space that is Orzuv Hub

 The view from my table at the outdoor cafe space.

A look at the Kandur, who is from Kashmir and now works with a customized clay oven that is the result of a lot of trial and error

I was in time for brunch and savoured the best of morning and evening breads. I watch mesmerized as the first bread I was going to have was made. The Bakarkhani is a layered, bread which is rolled, stretched and interspersed with mewa and ghee. The Orzuv tandoor requires that 20 of them be made at one go to maintain the right temperatures. It is served at the table with thick slabs of butter and Nun Chai – the pink, salty tea.

The Roth, a Kashmiri dense cake being placed in the clay wood-fired oven

 The Bakarkhani - before and after it goes into the oven

Saba tears the Bhakarkhani down the center to show me the multiple layers, which look like soft layers of tissue piled over each other, and says I can just swipe some butter with a piece and pop it into my mouth. Or I can break the bread up, drop it into my Nun Chai, let it soak and eat it up. I did it both ways and I couldn’t decide which one I liked better!

  The Czochworu with Mutton Rista

The Czochworu was up next- a donut shaped, slightly hard bread with a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Saba serves this with some coarsely ground almond chutney. Stuffed inside my Czochworu was some spicy Mutton Rista, which coupled with the chutney made for quite a filling dish.

 A closer look at the Mutton Rista

 The lovely, large, soft white Lavassa was up next. Placed in the center is a delicately hand-pounded Seekh-eTuji, a mutton seekh kebab that is moist and lightly spiced. Tear a piece of the Lavassa, add in some kebab, lace it with the carrot and radish in curd relish, add on some of the Gande Chzetin or onion chutney and you have mouthful that gives you so many textures and flavours at one go.

The making the Girda is quite hypnotic. Rolls of dough are flattened out by hand and finger impressions are pressed into it, to give you lines that run down its length. I was happy with just some butter very generously spread over it. The Girda here is also paired with a slow overnight cooked Harissa tempered with butter and onions as well as Charwan, stir fried lamb’s liver with tamarind.

The Kashmiri Kulchas are not the stereotype you are used to. They are palm-sized mounds in Mith (sweet) and Namkeen (savoury) versions. With a sprinkling of poppy seeds on top – these are the crumbly breads spell the beginning of the siesta especially when paired with Doodh Kehwa. Made with milk and cardamom, this milky Kehwa, for me, was like drinking warmras from a bowl of Ras Malai.

 The Roth with the Doodh Kehwa and the Zaffrani Kehwa

Also served up with these two beverages is the Roth. There are the cakes that you eat and then there is the Roth – This Kashmiri sweet bread is made of wheat, dried fruits and comes out to be a thick, deep pan bread. While on first bite you encounter a sweet crispy texture, the center gets more cookie like and you feel like you are indulging in a large nan khatai.

The name Orzuv is a greeting which wishes for one’s wellbeing. With such breads and of course traditional Kashmiri spreads also being available, the wellbeing of your soul is definitely guaranteed. Dal Lake may just take a backseat now!

Orzuv Hub
:17, Green Park Avenue, Opposite Yamaha Showroom, Whitefield
Phone: 080 49652183 
Cuisine: Kashmiri
Accepts cards: Yes
Parking: Limited parking indoors and road parking

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