As one steps into “Senoo Kashmir Pickles’ in Habba kadal area of old city of Srinagar, the aroma of pickles tantalizes visitors to taste the delicacies. Established in 1990, the outlet is a one-stop shop for pickle lovers.
Ghulam Qadir Seeno, owner of the shop, sits and enjoys tea while customers move around the store to look for their favourite variety. Popularly known as ‘pickle king of Kashmir’ Senoo specializes in making almost 100 different varieties of mouth-watering pickles.
He is credited for introducing new varieties of pickles in Kashmir. He makes pickles from apricot, amla, garlic and lemons. Pickles made from mutton, chicken and fish are also available in his shop.
“You can’t find apricot pickles anywhere in Kashmir. I have pickles of Kebab and Rista. Nowhere in Kashmir will you find such varieties,” he says proudly.
The shelves of the shop are packed with containers filled with dry and wet, sweet and sour pickles.
Talking about the health benefits of pickles he says, “Pickles if consumed in the right amount, are good for digestion. Some are beneficial in curing stress and depression, which is common these days among people.”
Also there are pickles of fruits like mango, cherry and seeds like carom (Ajwain) available in his shop. “Ajwain is helpful in reducing acidity. Garlic is known to be good for heart patients and fights cholesterol and respiratory problems,” he adds.
The pickles at Senoo’s have enticed the taste buds of one and all. People from faraway places come and relish the pickles from his shop.
Imran Shafi, a customer, says that Senoo’s pickles are one of the important things he carries with him to Mumbai. “My friends and colleagues wait for the pickles. It is the first thing they ask for when I go back to Mumbai.”
Usually Seeno gets a good number of customers but during Ramzan and wedding seasons, the demand for pickles usually spikes up.
The reason behind the huge number of customers, Senoo says, is the purity and usage of quality spices in the making of pickles. “The pickles are prepared in refined oil and cleanliness of the utensils and surroundings is taken care of properly.”
“No preservatives and adulterants are used. Superior quality of spices and other ingredients are used in preparing the colorful delicacies.”
Another customer, Sadiya Wani says, “I get stomach pain whenever I used to have pickles but I never felt any such thing with Seeno’s pickles. He is not only known for quality pickles but for warmness with which he deals with his customers.”
Ghulam Qadir Seeno says quality and passion towards his work is the reason that once just a small shop is now famous across Kashmir. “Customers keep coming and that gives me a lot of satisfaction.”
He says during peak of the pandemic he had to throw out a huge quantity of pickles. “Due to lockdown and fear of Coronavirus, people would not visit my shop and the pickles had spoiled so I threw it away because I didn’t want to play with people's health. Their trust is what I have earned in my life.”
Seeno lost three family members to the conflict. “There was a time when things looked very tough but it is my passion and hard work which kept me going.”
The septuagenarian is helped by younger son in his business, whom he sees will continue his legacy.