One and only Indian restaurant in Uzbekistan’s Samarkand

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Devanjana Mukherjee, Khabri Media

Called ‘The Indian Kitchen’, the restaurant came as a respite to Indian students who are studying medicine here and used to miss desi cuisine.

Pic: Social Media

In the heart of Samarkand, Uzbekistan, amidst the ancient Silk Road city’s rich history and diverse cultural tapestry, an unlikely culinary ambassador is making waves. Meet Mohammad Naushad, a retired man from Bengaluru, who has embarked on a unique and inspiring journey by running the only Indian restaurant in this Central Asian gem. To subscribe please click and access our live channel.

He had plans to travel the world after completing his tenure in the steel industry. He landed as a tourist in Samarkand a year ago and his quest for his morning masala tea and paratha prompted him to settle here and open the only Indian restaurant in the second-largest city of Uzbekistan.

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Called “The Indian Kitchen”, the restaurant came as a respite to Indian students who are studying medicine here and used to miss Indian food. The locals here also fancy the wide-ranging menu from lip smacking dosas to chicken biryani.

Pic: Social Media

Talking to a leading news agency, the 61 year old restaurateur, said, “I have travelled to so many countries and have always found some or the other place where Indian food is available. I was surprised to find out that there is not a single eatery or restaurant which serves Indian meals.”

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He further stated that, ” “I had no plans to work post-retirement and had no experience of working at a restaurant let alone running one. When I came here as a tourist, I headed out to have my usual breakfast of masala tea and paratha.”

The restaurant receives around 350-400 visitors per day and there are catering orders for weddings and events where having Indian cuisine as an option is a hit here. The shahi paneer and naan and the rotis used to be a rare sight here.

Pic: Social Media

Naushad continued stating as, “There are over 3,000 Indian students in Samarkand and they tell me often that they used to miss Indian meals. I expected the Indians to love the restaurant but the response I have received from Uzbeks is phenomenal.”

Behind the mouth-watering dishes available in the menu  is Ashok Kalidasa, a chef who hails from Madras. He earlier used to live in Uzbekistan’s Tashkent and is now settled in Samarkand. Kalidasa says the most popular dishes at the restaurant are “masala dosa” and “chicken biryani” which is much different from the Uzbek “Pilaf”.

While right now the Indian Kitchen offers meals at the restaurant, Naushad has expansion plans. “We are also thinking of starting a tiffin service for Indian students. Also, we get a lot of tourists. So I am contemplating opening similar setups in Bukhara and Khiva which are popular tourist destinations in Uzbekistan but do not have any Indian restaurants,” he said.

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