Meet the Kashmiri restaurateur who has foodies in Delhi licking their fingers
If you find yourself in Delhi or Gurgaon and long for a sumptuous Wazwan, look up Khyen Chyen, a chain of three restaurants run by Nasir Andrabi, a 38-year-old entrepreneur from Baghat, Srinagar. Khyen Chyen serves perhaps the most authentic Kashmiri fare outside the valley.
Nasir says the idea behind Khyen Chyen, the first of which opened in DLF Phase 4 in Gurgoan in February 2015, was to “take our Wazwan and street food to the world and promote and preserve Kashmiri food culture”. “I have been to many places across the world and everywhere I have found Kashmiri food missing from menus,” Nasir says, explaining why he left his banker’s job to became a restaurateur. “And we have such delicious food. Besides, I am foodie and I like our food and the way we serve it. So, I decided to open an outlet that would serve our authentic Kashmir Wazwan.”
Nasir speaks from a vast and varied experience. After graduating in Business Administration from Cardiff Business School in Britain, he worked in a bank there for two years. In 2003, he moved to Singapore, where he also worked in the banking until 2010. “I returned to Srinagar in 2010 to fulfill my dream of starting my own business,” Nasir says. “I did proper planning – choosing the right location, look of the restaurant, menu, the budget. Alhamdulillah, it all worked out and I opened my first outlet in Gurgoan.”
Encouraged by the response from both Kashmiris living in the Indian capital and non-Kashmiris, Nasir opened his second restaurant on Golf Course Road in Gurgoan. Another one later came up in the Select City Walk mall in South Delhi.
Apart from Wazwan, Khyen Chyen offers an array of Kashmiri street food delicacies such as Harrisa and Tujji. Some non-Kashmiri fare is available as well.
Khyen Chyen’s kitchen is manned by a team of traditional chefs, wazas. “I have 35-38 staff members. They are from Pampore, Uri, Srinagar and other places in Kashmir. To prepare Wazwan, I have a wasta waza,” says Nasir.
To enhance the authenticity of the experience, food is served in the traditional Kashmiri style, complete with Taash Naer, Trammi and Samovar. “I want to give our customers a feel of our rich culture and traditions,” Nasir says.
Nasir recently rebranded his establishment as Wonders of Kashmir-Khyen Chyen because non-Kashmiri customers struggled with the Kashmiri name. “I am planning to open more outlets in Delhi and in Pune, Mumbai, Banglore, may be abroad as well,” Nasir says. “That is why I changed the name. But wherever we open, our style of serving will always be the same. I want to promote our food culture. I want to show the world our culture is marvelous.”
“We are determined to keep our rich culture alive on our plates and in our hearts. That is what Khyen Chyen is about.”