Kamil Fayaz (33), an MBA graduate from Jawahar Nagar Srinagar owns the first ever exclusive Paan Cafe in Munawarabad.
Kamil has ventured into the business world with the establishment of his first store in 2013.
“As an entrepreneur I always wanted to grow my business in different dimensions. I wanted to partake in the food industry, but I wanted to do something offbeat,” said Kamil.
Paan is something Kamil has enjoyed himself.
“I love paan and I know that a lot of Kashmiris do the same. However, we could only experience the aromas of Paan outside the Valley,’’ he said.
Paan, is a snack which is widely consumed throughout Southeast Asia, South Asia (Indian subcontinent), and consists of a betel leaf filled with chopped betel, Areca nut and slaked lime, to which assorted other ingredients, including red katha paste may be added
Kamil ventured into this business as he wanted to give the valley its very own assortment of this much-loved treat.
Kamil’s venture “Mast Banarasi Paan” currently serves more than 100 varieties of paan and he started it two months back.
“Our fire and smoke paan drew a lot of attention and excitement in the young paan lovers. However, the old classic Meetha Paan is the most popular one,” said Kamil.
The paan artists at Kamil’s shop are experts in paan making.
“Our paan artists are well trained experts from Uttar Pradesh. They not only focus on the authenticity of flavours, but also take care of hygiene part of it,” said Kamil.
“There is the daily struggle of procuring betel leaves that go in the making of paan. We have to get the leaves from outside on almost a daily basis as their shelf life is low.”
Five people work at Mast Banarasi Paan, three of which are paan artists.
Kamil has received a great response from this venture.
“The response was beyond my expectations. People showed a lot of love and warmth towards my venture,” Kamil said.
Kamil believes Kashmir has a lot of scope in the food industry.
“I believe that entrepreneurs should not limit themselves to the mainstream Kababs and coffee only. There are a lot of possibilities in such ventures also,” he said.
The regular paans at his shop range in between Rs 50 to Rs 110. The special paan costs between Rs 500 to Rs 2500.
Kamil is also venturing into a tea café (Kulhad chai) which is something most Kashmiris enjoy when travelling outside the state.
“I felt that was something that was missing from the food scene of Kashmir.”
Kamil said, “Our tea cafe will serve many different varieties of tea and will be a treat to the taste buds.”
He said, “A lot of on-the-go snacks will also be available to relish. We hope that a cup of our chai really warms up Kashmiri hearts this winter.”