When raged it destroys, when kindled it creates.
Light up a fire to replay the history of mankind.
- Central Asian adage
For centuries fired ovens have shaped human settlements, cities, empires and our civilization. From cooking our food to forging metal for our wars and baking mud and bricks to build our cities, fire does it all. War kills, cities are too expensive to build, but food is something we can cook, and cook rather well. At Balkh Bukhara, we pay an ode to fire, our primal witness, with food that has evolved and has survived the most fires of both creation and destruction. Fires that were raged by armies of some of the greatest empires of the ancient and medieval world and fires that kindled the finest arts, culture, architecture, craftsmanship, religion, theology, trade and of course, food.
Central Asia is the cauldron where were forged and destroyed the greatest empires of the ancient and the medieval world. Chinese Huns and Qara Khitans; Arab Abbadsids; Persian Saffarids, Samanids, Safavids, Afsharids and Sassanids; Turk Ghaznavids, Seljuks and Khwarazmian; Turco-Mongol Timurids, Chagatais and Mughals; besides the Mongols, the Kushans and even Greek Seleucids -
all these formidable dynasties have contributed to the rich history and culture of this region. The times also saw the rise and fall of the great cities of Samarqand, Merv, Nishapur, Isfahan, Khojand, Badakshan, Kabul, Khotan, Badakshan, Kashgar, Yarkand, Herat, Balkh and Bukhara. Of these Balk and Bukhara were probably the most celebrated ones, at least in the Indian subcontinent.
While regimes changed, every dynasty, every army and the traders and the craftsmen brought with them their own way of life to the region, most important of which was food. While the upheavals continued, the food continued to evolve under several different influences. With Kushans in the ancient times and the Mughals in the medieval times significant cultural influences from Central Asia were brought to the Indian subcontinent. The Mughals, ethnically of Turco-Mongol origin of Chagtai dynasty, but distinctly Perisanate culturally, left an indelible influence by marrying the Persian, Central Asian and Indian cuisines and developed a uniquely Indian Mughlai cuisine, most closely associated with the Awadh province of Mughal India.
The use of the cylindrical clay oven and an exotic blend of spices set apart this cooking technique from any other in the world. The spice mix is often a closely guarded family secret passed on through the generations or by a master chef to a deserving understudy after years of tutelage. We have the good fortune of embracing the skills and secrets of a master chef in the direct lineage of cooks from the house of Lucknowi Nawabs. We've gone further and kindled a fire in our Tandoors that bears a witness to the rich history of this food – an ode to Balkh and Bukhara for the discerning foodies of the Tricity.
P.S.: There is a Chajju Da Chaubara in Lahore. But that's one story up.