If you are going through Anantnag - Srinagar highway, don't forget to get down at Bejbehara market and purchase some bakery products as the place is known for manufacturing quality bakery products. Bejbehara is also known as Bakery town of Kashmir.
There is hardly any person in Kashmir whose day passes without nibbling hot and crispy tandoori bread or bakery. If the presence of a bakery products is not glimpsed at any event or function, it remains unfinished. These things are intrinsic to Kashmir culture maintained by the markets like Bejbehara.
Bejebhara, a small town in south Kashmir, is situated at the distance of eight kilometers from Srinagar- Anantnag highway. In Bejbehara market there are at least 50 bakery shops selling different varieties of bakery products.
Some bakery sellers of the town told Rising Kashmir that the people associated with this profession have never compromised with the quality of ingredients used for bakery produced over the last five decades.
The majority of locals living in the town are associated with this profession. " The Bejbehara bakery products are famous all over Kashmir and beyond due to its captivating look and softness. It is known as the hub of bakery," the locals said.
A 60-year-old bakery professional from the town said they have been associated with this work for the last 50 years and they are satisfied with their work.
" In the 90s there was not much demand of bakery in Kashmir as people were consuming tandoori roti but from the dawn of 2000, things have drastically changed and with time we evolved," he said adding "Thank God, we are making a good name and profit from it."
Faizan Majeed Sofi, a young bakery professional said his ancestors were also engaged with the same profession.
" We show respect and maintain patience towards this work and earn through legal means and thanks to the creator we are satisfied with this work. We use quality materials such as ghee, flour, dry fruits oil, etc for making the products," he said.
Another bakery professional Sartaj Ah sofi said, during summers there is a huge rush of people who buy bakery from their shops.
"After returning from the picnic spots, people who pass by our area, necessarily take some bakery items from our shops. We also receive orders from Pahalgam hotel and tea stall owners," he said adding "Even people from various places come here with the sole aim of buying bakery items, despite the availability of bakery products in their respective markets. The quality, softness, and aroma of our products is the reason people prefer to travel here to buy bakery products."
Abdul Rashid Sofi, another bakery dealer, said even in today's inflation time they are selling quality bakeries at affordable prices.
" We are not distinguishing between rich and poor. our sole purpose is to bring smiles to the faces of people. We are treating every customer with uttermost respect. That is why those who buy bakeries for the first time have become regular consumers," he said.
According to the bakery dealers, this bakery industry has accommodated a lot of unemployed youth and provided them with their livelihood. Around a hundred families are providing jobs to 200 youth in the area.
"We are associated with this work for the last 20 years and at present three youths are working with us who are in the learning process. Once they acquired mastery in this profession, they will provide jobs to others, that are our aim", said Mohd Shafi sofi a bakery dealer.
Mohd Shaban a well-known baker in Bejbehara said, every kind of bakery is available in the town. We are using both "Tandoors" and "Bhata" to bake bread. The tandoor and bhata have to be prepared differently for each bun, he said.
"Every bread requires varied ingredients, labor, and baking temperature. We lend our sweat and blood to prepare any variety. After that it fits customers expectations," he said.
"Our bakerkhanni is very famous throughout Kashmir because of its favor and shape. I am getting calls from customers for bakerkhannis and even they are paying me in advance," Farooq Ahmad Sofi said while praising the local Bakerkhanni made in Bejbehara.
Some of the bakery shops have also come up with the option of home delivery. Waseem Ahmad a young baker said, they have started home delivery service of bakeries and cakes to appease their customers.
"In this present era of technology you can do wonders with any business. The trend is people now preferred customized service and we are obliged to it. Birthday cakes, pastries, marriage cakes, and anniversary cakes are the frequently ordered things," he said.
He said, "we are receiving our orders through calls, social media sites, and on spot presence. Consequently, we are working on an app so that people can reach us easily. Today we are delivering only in the vicinity of Bejbehara town and Pahalgam area but we will expand it further".
Talking to Rising Kashmir Mohd Rafiq a customer from Shopian said, he has come from a distant place to purchase bakery products from this particular market.
"In this market, we get good quality of bakery at a reasonable price with delicate flavor and softness. All the bread makers are using good material for making bakery. we have been eating this bakery for many years and we love to eat it. The bread produced here is good for health as it never deteriorates your wellbeing," he said.
Another customer Nadeem Ah Sheikh from Pulwama said, he has never seen Kandi Kulche baked in tandoor anywhere but in Bejbehara.
" Recently on the occasion of my sister's marriage, we bought all the bakeries from this marvelous market. Even our guests commended these delicacies."
The varieties available in the market includes Tsot, Girda, Tsochwor, or Tilvor, Kandi Kulche, Namkeen Kulche, Bakerkhanni, Sheermal, Cakes, Biscuits and various other products.