Xperience Pakistan is all about conducting business with a purpose
In August 2019, I went on a business trip to Pakistan with my family. The purpose of the trip was to vet for myself some of the routes that we were thinking for or would recommend to our clients to go on but also to first hand try some of the experiences, whilst providing some training and feedback on what could be improved.
Ethos behind the Food Tours?
One such, was our beloved Food Tour which I have developed with Madiha Hamid founder of Chefling Tales. She is a young budding entrepreneur like me, who passionately believes that Pakistan is often misunderstood. There are great stories to tell behind every food dish served. Madiha & I are advocates of doing business with a purpose, giving back to the community & promoting entrepreneurship amongst them. Compared to many countries Pakistan ranks 152 out of 156 countries in Female Economic Empowerment. This is a stat that neither Madiha or I are pleased about, particularly being females ourselves.
How do we empower women?
We recognise that due to time & cultural constraints, offering employment to women in more conservative & remote areas can be difficult. It was because of this we both thought about developing the food tours. This is something that these women are skilled at. It wouldn’t require much training, nor would it entail them leaving their homes. These food tours would generate an income for them. Pakistan has a diversified pallet of food to offer, which I discovered on this journey. From influences of China in the North to more seafood based dishes in Karachi, situated along the Arabian Sea. Educating you about the history, geography & people that belong to the different regions of Pakistan over a meal is our key focus.
We are both passionate about these food tours because we get a lot of joy knowing we are helping & benefiting other women, less privileged than us.
Behind the Scenes at Moksha Cafe with Saira
One of the Chefs that we have collaborated with is the talented Saira, owner of Moksha Cafe. She is based in Gulmit with her husband Faiz, in Hunza, an idyllic setting which has its own nursery. All the food she cooks uses the ingredients grown by the couple. I went there with my father & son, to test the experience. This was to help us get an understanding of how many numbers could be accommodated. How long the experience would take & to fine tune the experience, training Saira on how to engage & plan. We made a delicious Yak Soup as a starter, which is the local delicacy. A scrumptious main meal which comprised of spinach, pine nuts and pasta. Finally we made a delicious pancake like dessert with local honey and apricots.
Much of the dishes in Hunza are soup based, due to the cold weather in the winters. It is a lot lighter on spices & very healthy, which explains why many of the citizens in this region live to great ages.
Why we think you will love it?
What’s lovely about this experience is that everything is authentic. The couple are Patriotic Pakistani’s & so the whole decor is authentic from the rugs hung on the walls to the beautiful seating they have on the floor. Saira’s husband is also a trained Chef and has worked with many top Chef’s in Europe & on Cruise Ships, despite this he is very happy playing Saira’s side kick. Once you have finished with the meal we had originally planned that you would move on.
What are the changes we have made?
However having done the experience I think you should stay put & go to their terrace at the back, from which you can sip on a cup of tea whilst watching the sun set over the Passu Cones. Another amendment we also made is, instead of making all three dishes, we’d recommend you only make the dessert, so you have more time to listen to their stories, eat and take in the setting.
This cafe is a hidden gem and very popular amongst the locals, from photographers, models to vloggers who use this as a base to edit videos and write blogs. To truly enjoy the experience, it is not just about eating but taking the time to enjoy the environment. This is definitely an experience you can do with teens, my 12 year old really enjoyed it, particularly the eating at the end.
Why do we need you to support it?
Community Based Tourism is at the heart of what both Chefling Tales & Xperience Pakistan are all about. We want to deliver great authentic experiences for you, whilst ensuring that we help the local community, empowering local women & showcasing some of the great entrepreneurial projects which exist in Pakistan. The local communities in the North rely on tourism as their main bread & butter. The pandemic has had a negative effect and increased poverty, particularly amongst women & girls, resulting in more girls dropping out of education. We donate £25 to Pakistan Alliance for Girls Education, with every booking. These food tours help local businesses, particularly women, which enables them to have some financial independence.
Who is this tour designed for?
If you are a foodie & want to know that your holiday is having a positive impact, then you will absolutely love this tour. Madiha from Chefling Tales has designed the itinerary so it has a great mix of local favourites, home chefs & some fine dining. I have also ensured that you see some of the great cultural places to see in Pakistan from Peshawar, Islamabad to Lahore.
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