A thousand Muslim residents and expatriates from Ras Al Khaimah to Dubai queue up before stalls of traditional Pakistani snacks two hours before Iftar at Pak Ghazi Restaurant & Sweets along Bank Square in Rolla.
Daily, 2,500 pieces of samosa, 50 kilograms of pakoras and a thousand packs of chazaris, phenis, chapli kebab and many other Iftar snacks are sold in less than an hour. Even Omani and Saudi nationals on holiday in the UAE come to this place to take a bite and buy parcels for their families. From Emiratis to Muslim expatriates in Sharjah, Ajman, Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah, as well as travellers to Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi have their Iftar fill at this one-stop shop of Pakistani traditional snacks.
Between 35 and 40 Pakistani workers serve these growing number of customers, fully satisfied with the special recipes mainly from Ghazi Mohammed Azmal, now 65, who has gone home to Pakistan and left the business to his six sons.
The main restaurant started with the popular biryaini, fry chops and korma together with salted roasted meat as its main cuisine, which became popular among Emiratis, Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis and Arab residents, expatriates and visitors to Sharjah 40 years back.
Mohammed Azam Ghazi, one of Azmal’s sons managing the main restaurant for seven years, says that their clients increased by 15 to 20 per cent every year, prompting his other brothers to open a branch in another part of Rolla and another branch near National Paints. “As we expanded ten years after the main restaurant started, we just maintained the quality of service and offered more like mutton chapli kabab, katchoris, meat samosa, vegetable samosa, chicken chapli kebab, shami kebab, pakoras, which are popular traditional Pakistan and Indian snacks, particularly during Iftar,” Ghazi says.
This 40-year-old main restaurant and the two 30-year-old branches in Sharjah are faring well, particularly during Ramadan when queues become long two hours before Iftar.
An Emirati customer, Abdullah, says that he really likes the specially cooked samosas. “I come here daily to buy for my family’s Iftar snacks. I won’t get tired coming daily for a satisfying food.”
Farooq Azam, 53, an old customer and on gold business in the UAE for 33 years, says that he spends Dh100 daily to buy meat samosa, chop fry mutton, halim, and traditional sweet jilabi. “I drive all the way from my home in Ajman to Sharjah just to buy these Pakistani snacks for my family’s Iftar daily. I have been a loyal customer since this restaurant began,” he adds.
Indian Sayed, who always comes to buy samosa and phenis, says that his family is taking phenisduring Suhoor time before the morning prayer. “This pheni is a very popular food because when we eat it in the morning and fast, you cannot feel any hunger throughout the day.”
To keep his customers for years, master chef Tariq has been faithfully keeping the main recipes of the old owner, Ghazi Mohammed Azmal, who envisioned and introduced them to Sharjah in 1970. He blends all things, from vegetables to potatoes and meat, and with the secret recipes make thousands of these traditional food to the delight of all.
source: khaleej times