Srinagar: For long,
mango pickles have adorned the Indian platter, working as the
perfect taste enhancer. But ever tasted peach or strawberry
pickle? Or the more exotic fish or mutton varieties? Head to
Kashmir's Sanoo Kashmiri Pickles to savour these interesting
Lotus stem, knolkhol, mango, citrus fruits, cabbage, carrot,
radish, apple, apricot, cherry, peach, strawberry, fish, chicken,
mutton - you name it and they have it! A total of 40 varieties of
pickles are spread over the shelves at this novel store in old
city Habba Kadal area of Srinagar.
Besides a roaring business that the shop does through its local
clients, pickle lovers from abroad also send their relatives and
friends to collect a few packets of their favourite pickle.
Run by the father-son duo of Haji Gulam Qadir Sanoo and Abdul
Majid, the shop has become the ultimate destination for the pickle
lovers of the city.
But there is a sad history behind the present success of the shop.
"We were a prosperous family of transporters till 1989 when my
elder brother, Muhammad Yusuf, was killed in mysterious
circumstances in the beginning of violence in the city,"
32-year-old Abdul Majid told IANS.
"Before his death, my second brother had died in an accident in
1988. As if this was not enough, my mother was killed in a grenade
explosion in 2002.
That ended our family's transport business. There was nobody
except my old father and me to look after the fleet of buses we
had," an emotionally-charged Majid said.
"We had no option but to sell the buses and look for some other
means of sustenance," he says.
Majid, an undergraduate, had to give up his studies to help his
father create "the pickle magic in Kashmir".
"Father had always loved good quality pickles and he used to
himself make them in the good old days.
"In 1990 he thought of converting his hobby to a full fledged
Locally-made good and healthy pickles were not available in
Srinagar markets even though Kashmiris have always loved their
pickles," Majid says.
"Initially I helped my father prepare pickles of a few vegetables
and sell them at this shop which we started in 1990," he recalls.
And there was no looking back after that. The response was
"Buyers literally mobbed our shop as we did not have enough stock
to meet the demand.
"Encouraged by the response, we hired workers and diversified into
non-conventional varieties like cherry, apricot, fish, mutton and
chicken, besides citrus fruits and other varieties," Majid says
According to him, an assortment of spices are used to lend flavour
to the pickles. Also, pure, organic spices are ground at a factory
and added to the pickles along with mustard oil which acts as a
"No vinegar, artificial colour or maturing agent is used in our
preparations. We go for natural maturing," Majid said.
According to him, customer suggestions have helped a lot in
deciding about the pickle flavours. So much so that he feels the
most sought after pickle varieties have all evolved over time with
"We have always taken customer complaints and suggestions very
seriously and that has been the secret of improvement of our
The shop sees huge business for most part of the year except for
June and July when it's very hot.
"From hotels to marriages we have been supplying pickles for every
occasion," he said.
Bowls full of mouth-watering mango, carrot, apple pickles are
lined up on one side of the shop while large containers full of
fish, chicken and mutton pickles are laid on the other shelf.
Appetizing aroma fills the shop and also spills over to the street
outside as Majid wears gloves to take out a bowl full of apricot
pickles for an eager buyer.
The family now intends to open branches at some other places in
Srinagar and other parts of the Kashmir Valley.
"To maintain the quality, we do not intend to pass on dealerships,
but would open and manage branches on our own in the coming days,"
(F. Ahmed can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)