Attari (Punjab): A popular restaurant, which sells Indian and Pakistani cuisine and the idea of peace between the not-so-friendly neighbours right at the international border between both countries, will showcase its food at an international food event in Paris next month.
‘Sarhad’ (which means border) restaurant, located just one kilometer from the Attari-Wagah joint checkpost of India and Pakistan, has been invited to participate in the ‘Grand Fooding S. Pellegrino Plats’ in Paris, being organised by Le Fooding on September 24.
“Sarhad, which promotes peace through food with its Amritsari-Lahori cuisine and culture, has been invited to participate in the world’s biggest food event at Paris being organised by Le Fooding on September 24 this year,” restaurant owner Aman Jaspal told IANS here.
Aman and his wife Sameena will be serving the delicious Chicken Biryani, a popular rice and chicken dish in both countries, at the food festival. Aman will soon travel to Lahore to get fresh spices and ingredients from there.
“Sarhad is one of the 10 restaurants invited from across the world with a similar mission to use food as a medium for peace and reconciliation. Top international chefs and restaurateurs will present essential dishes from different countries, religions and cultures in conflict with each other who come together through their shared gastronomy,” Aman pointed out.
International chefs who will be presenting a special dish for the Paris event are Niki Kopcke and Roberta Siao from London, Kamal Mouzawk from Lebanon, Celine Pham from Paris, Jessamyn Rodriguez and Les Boulangeres from New York, Regina Tchelly from Brazil, Pierre Gagnaire from France and Xavier Zapata from Marseille-France.
Sameena, who is from New Zealand and whose parents run a chain of restaurants there, is all excited about the Paris event.
“It’s a great feeling to know that like Sarhad there are like minded organisations in the world who consider food as peace facilitator,” Sameena told IANS.
The theme of the food event this year has been kept to celebrate reconciliation, life and peace around and through food. This has been done in view of the tragic terror strikes in Paris, Brussels and other places across the world.
“Food has always been central to bringing people together, so the event will serve to highlight local and international initiatives, paying tribute to chefs, restaurateurs, NGOs that act to promote peace among men and women at different levels social, cultural and religious,” Coralie Kwok, chief coordinator of the event, stated in an Email to the Jaspal couple.
The unique border restaurant ‘Sarhad’ showcases the architectural, cultural and culinary heritage of pre-partition Punjab in general and Amritsar and Lahore cities in particular.
The Lahori menu at the restaurant, which is a big draw with visitors to the Retreat ceremony and among local residents, includes Chapli Kebab, Nihari Ghost, Bannu Kebab, Fish Korma, Miyanji ki Dal and Bakarkhani Roti.
“To add a little fizz to the current tepid phase in Indo-Pakistan relations, Sarhad has introduced non-alcoholic beer manufactured by Pakistan’s iconic liquor brand, the 160-year-old Rawalpindi-based Murree Brewery.
“Also available only at Sarhad is all-time Lahori favorite dessert, Khalifa Nan Khatai. Seven boxes of this desert were presented by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the latter’s swearing in ceremony in 2014,” Aman pointed out.
Lahore’s leading designer Ansa Zafar has created furniture for Sarhad while Salah-auddin Michu has created ceramic jaali panels with exquisite motifs of the Lahore fort and Indus valley civilization.
Pakistan’s most celebrated truck artist, Haider Ali, has painted two Tata mini trucks in Pakistani truck art.
These colourful trucks, with the slogan “India-Pakistan Friendship Zindabad” boldly emblazoned on the bonnet, are parked at Sarhad and are a big attraction for tourists.
Aman, who studied Economics in Norway before venturing into food business, hopes that one day India and Pakistan could foster better ties through the gourmet route.
“If Paris can try to discover peace and reconciliation through food, there is no reason why India and Pakistan, which share a great common culinary heritage, should not give a chance to food diplomacy. Sarhad would be more than willing to host such an effort,” Aman (which means peace) said.
The brick-lined ‘Sarhad’ restaurant complex was launched on August 15 (India’s Independence Day) in 2012. It is located about 30 km from the Sikh holy city of Amritsar. Famous Pakistani architect and designer Nayar Ali Dada was roped in to incorporate features of old Lahore and old Amritsar in the design for the Sarhad complex.