Startup: Skewerz BBQ
The founders of the newest concept in fast casual dining, Skewerz Barbecue, are keen to show Sydneysiders what authentic Indian and Pakistani street-food tastes like. While the setting may contemporary, the food is entirely authentic..
Both Zain Moloobhoy and Bilal Somra are avid foodies and have been discussing for years the lack of availability of the true flavours from their home cities. As MBA students, they started researching and planning the concept and eight years later they launched the flagship Skewerz Barbecue store in Ultimo.
The street vendors of Lahore and Mumbai are artisans whose recipes and cooking styles have a long and respected history. The duo want to introduce these specialty flavours to Australian palates, and shake things up a bit when it comes to the concept of Indian/Pakistani food, and a “kebab” in particular.
Zain explained: “From its ancient Persian roots, the humble barbecued meat evolved as it spread across continents. In India and Pakistan, though, the Persian kebab met its match. Confronted by a baffling array of spices, diverse regional palates, unique food preparation and cooking methods, the kebab changed. Then, with the encouragement of the Mughal Rulers, the sub-continental kebab took on noble properties – melting in the mouth, incorporating rare ingredients, expensive and elite. However, we are an egalitarian lot in the subcontinent. We wanted to eat as the Kings ate – and so from the vast kitchens of the Mughal Empire, a steady trickle of master chefs and their understudies began setting up humble barbecues outside the palace walls. Some succeeded and some didn’t. Of those that succeeded, some passed on their recipes to family and friends. And this is where the story of Skewerz Barbecue began – with a closely held family recipe”.
Skewerz Barbecue opened its first restaurant in April 2011, with expansion plans in place. Weeks after opening, franchise enquiries were received, including an enquiry from India!
Customers enter the open plan store and can place orders while watching the food be barbecued on custom designed equipment in the Skewerz open kitchen. The theatre of cooking is part of the experience, as it is on the streets of Lahore and Mumbai. As opposed to the Lebanese/Turkish style of kebab which uses shaved meat, at Skewerz marinated and spiced chicken cubes, beef mince or lamb cubes are barbecued fresh to order on skewers and served with grilled or fried flat bread and signature condiments in a plate or as a wrap. The food can be washed down with steaming cups of hot, freshly brewed Masala Chai and a side of crispy batter potatoes that are unique to the sub-continent. Desert is a new take on something that owner Zain grew up enjoying – mango pulp and hot flatbread for dipping. The pulp Is from Alphonso mangoes that are unique to the subcontinent and considered to be the best mango in the world.
Zain said: “Our recipes go back several generations. They are tried and tested and have finally found a commercial home at Skewerz Barbecue,”
Bilal said: “We focus on kebabs. As good as you would get at that street vendor in Mumbai or Lahore But we do it in contemporary, hygienic settings using the best halal Australian Prime Meats. It’s the best of both worlds really”.