Stirring neatly slashed vegetables and crushed spices in a plastic jar, 71-year old Ghulam Qadir Senoo is busy preparing his wide range of pickles. Senoo has been in this trade for over three decades.
His shop at congested Nai Sadak, Habba Kadal, an Old City locality is decked with over 100 varieties of pickles—vegetarian, non-vegetarian and fruits—costing between Rs 150 to 800 per Kg. “Pickle making is an art. It needs lot of preparation and patience,” Senoo says while taking a deep breath.
Seeno learnt the art from his brother; after the latter’s death, Seeno has been running the shop since 1989. “My passion for pickle making keeps me going.”
Besides traditional mixed pickle, Senoo has added fish, meat and fruit varieties of pickles. “More than pickle maker, I have become a hakeem,” he says with a smile while pointing towards plastic containers and jars with garlic and ginger pickle.
“Many pickles like garlic, karela (Bitter gourd) and ginger have properties to lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. I have introduced trout pickle which is also beneficial for health,” he says.
Senoo has also introduced Wazwaan varieties to his pickle menu. “My kebab and rista pickles are popular,” he said.
Besides Jammu and Kashmir, Senoo’s pickles are popular in other states and countries. “I get orders from my clients from the Middle-East countries and Bangladesh. But for last one year, my business has been hit due to COVID1 pandemic.”
Senoo says his unique selling point is usage of traditional Kashmiri spices in his pickles. “I don’t compromise on quality. I use locally cultivated spices. I don’t use artificial colours in pickles but herbs. This gives unique taste and colour to my pickles. My pickles are for taste and health,” he says in a high tone.
Senoo says till few decades ago women in almost every house in Kashmir used to make pickles. “They knew healthy benefits of pickles. They used to work hard and had patience, the essential ingredients to make pickles,” he said.
“But now everyone likes fast food which is not good for health,” he says.
Senoo’s son Abdul Majeed lends him a helping hand. “There is huge scope to promote preparation of pickles in Kashmir and market it globally through online portals,” Majeed says.
“It is a proud moment for me that my kin is carrying forward not only my family’s legacy but our culture. I am ready to train unemployed youth so that they can start their own ventures,” Senoo says.