Yes, the title Bawarchi Bhaijaan sounds very filmy but I am sure it is completely apt. To people who are wondering what the title means, Bawarchi means Cook/Chef, Bhaijaan means Brother.
I met Hasnain Bhaijaan for the first time when I was having lunch with my 2 friends – Pratiksha and Priya (they are also my darlings because they cook whatever I ask them to). They always keep chanting about how their Pakistani WG mates are really sweet. They were talking to a tall fair man while I was having lunch. His Hindi was different and it seemed more like the Urdu Indians speak in the Northern part of India. And it is then I introduced myself to him and so did he. I shamelessly asked him if he likes eating chicken and when he gave me a positive reply, I shamelessly asked him to call me when he cooked the same. He obliged with a sweet smile.
He told me about his WG mate who cooks really well. At this point of time, I would like to introduce you to another person – Usman Bhaijaan. Usman Bhaijaan can be boisterous and is pulling your leg more often than your heart beats in a minute. But the first time I met him was when his battery was down. Nevertheless, I met these men again on the day of Diwali. I reminded both of them to cook for me.
And one evening I got a message in Facebook, “Aaj hum biryani bana rahe hain, free ho toh aa jana (Today we are cooking Biryani, join us if you are free)”
I did not want to go just to eat; so I went even before they started cooking. Usman Bhaijaan was the Chef-in-Chief. From cutting the chicken to adding the right ingredients, he did quite a lot of things. Hasnain Bhaijaan was more than happy to assist Usman Bhaijaan with whatever help he needed. And I kept monkeying around, asking both of them questions about different Biryani available in Pakistan and telling them about the different ones we get in India. After 2 hours, the Biryani was ready. Sindhi Biryani to be precise.
Although we do not have formalities between us, it was really heartening when Usman Bhaijaan asked me to start off. Oh boy, what a Biryani that was, totally scrumptious. Perhaps one of the best I have ever had. I am not exaggerating. I would like to say something here which my grandmother always told me.
“If you cook any food with real passion and from the bottom of your heart, you will really win over the taste buds of the person whom you are cooking for.”
Her words came true. I really saw with how much love both of them made the Sindhi Biryani for me. I had a lot. A LOT!! And I did not shy away from praising and telling them that the next time I would like to try something else. Over the next few days, I took Egg Bhurji from Usman Bhaijaan’s pan without even asking him and he had no qualms. This talks abounds about his personality. Later, one day I cooked Paneer for Priya, Pratiksha, Hasnain Bhaijaan and Usman Bhaijaan. Hasnain Bhaijaan and Usman Bhaijaan cooked Gobi ki Sabzi – Cauliflower. Pratiksha and Priya had cooked Cheele – a kind of a spicy Indian cake.
After dinner, Hasnain Bhaijaan asked me, “Chai peeyoge? (Do you want to have tea?)”
I am not a Tea/Coffee person but Pratiksha keeps bragging about the tea Hasnain Bhaijaan makes and hence, I decided to give it a try. She was bang on. Hasnain Bhaijaan’s tea is marvelous.
I was also very happy to cook chicken for Hasnain Bhaijaan and I did miss Usman Bhaijaan that day. But some time later, I wish to make them taste South Indian food, because I hail from South India. I also wish to cook some nice Bengali food because I am a Bengali by birth.
Besides being amazing cooks, both of them are wonderful human beings. Hasnain Bhaijaan is my first Pakistani friend. He has also given me Pakistani currency when I told him I collect coins and notes of other countries. I already have a Pakistani currency in India but this one is special because it has come from a Pakistani himself. Usman Bhaijaan is another wonderful person. He mocks my physique, makes fun of my cricket bat because it is small, he ridicules about many things while talking about cricket but yet he is very jocular in whatever he says or does.
I was slightly taken aback when I came to know that they would leave this place soon. But they have given me enough memories in this short span to remember them forever, and fondly call them my Bhaijaan or rather Bawarchi Bhaijaan!