Dubai: A total of 312,044 hits in 60 days with a daily average of 150 visitors from all over the world, including places like Serbia, Latvia, Ecuador, Vatican City and Lebanon. That's the kind of response a foodie website launched from Dubai has received since its launch in July.
The brainchild of a city-based Indian couple, Deepa and Bharath Charchara, http://panjakhada.com is being billed as an authentic guide to Thathai Bhatia cuisine, a spread that promotes vegetarianism to the exclusion of even onions and garlic.
Known to be a conservative sect within the Sindhi community [one of the most widely present in the Indian diaspora], the Thathai Bhatias which the Charcharas belong to trace their roots to Rajasthan in India and Thatta of Sindh in Pakistan. Their ancestors were mainly traders and entrepreneurs who settled down in different parts of the globe.
But as Bharath, who works as General Manager at the India Club, said, "With each passing generation, the threat of the community weaning away from its regular food habits was getting more real. We needed a record of what our cuisine entails."
It was a thought that had occurred to him even as a student of hotel management in Mumbai, India, where he had put together a rough compilation of 50 recipes for his thesis. It was a runaway hit as family members sought photocopies which he started selling for a nominal sum. In 2002, Bharath, who was by now married, revisited the thesis with his wife and brought out a full-fledged book called Panja Khada (Our Food) in Dubai. Over 2,000 copies of the book were sold at Dh25 each.
But as demand continued to grow, the couple realised that their aim was not to make money out of the project, but to make the recipes accessible to more and more people. And the only way they could reach out those present in different parts of the world was to create a website.
With 150 recipes, the website covers everything from breakfast, lunch and dinner to snacks and other accompaniments. The recipes have been standardised.
And true to tradition, cooking is kept simple with only a few spices being used.
A section on festivals and feasts has also been included
"Our next project is a book called Panja Reeti Rivas (Our Customs & Traditions)," said Bharath, explaining that it would record the history and origin of the Bhatias, with different sections like family trees, festivals and classic proverbs which he hopes will benefit the community.