Bangladesh food

Zaika – The best Indian food in Trubarjeva Cesta

Despite the growing number of Chinese restaurants, Slovenia is still not a great place for non-European cuisine, and it is only in the last decade or so that Ljubljana itself has experienced greater diversity in regarding its catering offerings. Much of the excitement is concentrated in and around Trubarjeva cesta, the colorful but rapidly becoming bourgeois street that runs from Prešeren Square to one or two of the contemporary culture centers, the Metelkova-Gallery-Museum district and the brand new Cukrarna.

I lived on the streets my early years in Slovenia, one of the less vibrant members of the immigrant community, despite having a long-standing interest in the spicier side of cooking on the other end. of Eurasia. This is why when Chef Ziauddin Ahmed started serving subcontinent dishes at Hotel Park (now the B&B) a few years ago, I was a very happy customer, joining many others who have traveled far and wide to enjoy his work.

See the full menu. Photo: Zaïka

I left Ljubljana two years ago, just at the end of 2019 and a few months before the lockdown, hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes, clubs, etc. the mess is finally over, the scene will have changed dramatically, with some businesses shutting down, others growing successfully.

One of those changes on the scene concerns Ziauddin, who in March of this year took over the small space at Trubarjeva 60 which previously hosted the Bangladesh restaurant. The place (Zaïka) has been fully cleaned and refurbished, and set up for take out and delivery service, making the most of the small space and central location to bring colorful, exotic and delicious new tastes to the street, with meat, vegetarian and vegan options.
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Ziauddin Ahmed, pictured in another location. Photo: JL Flanner

I’ve known Ziauddin for a long time, so here’s a bit of his and Zaika’s story, which you should check out and support if you want more of this sort of thing in town.

How did you get to Ljubljana?
I am from Calcutta, West Bengal. I did my master’s degree in hospitality. After that, I got a job at a five star super-luxury hotel, the Hyatt Regency Kolkata. So I started my career from there, and I worked there for four and a half years, then I had the chance to come to Ljubljana as a chef from Figovec, when it was an Indian restaurant, which was called Currylife Figovec, then I worked at Hotel Park for a few years, until COVID changed everything.

Are people here ready to try Indian cuisine?
Yes, a lot of people in Ljubljana love Indian food, but a lot of them are still afraid to try it because their perception is that it is very spicy, maybe there is no option for vegans etc.

Slovenia is still a young country so I think it will take a bit longer for people to get used to Asian flavors, dishes and spices. Having said that, the recipes are not written in the bible so you can change them up and make good food according to a customer’s taste buds and choice, just let me know before I start cooking. . In my opinion, this is the real difference between a chef and a cook. A cook just follows the recipe, but a chef can adapt it and still make something that appeals to all of the senses, no matter what needs to be changed.

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See the full menu. Photo: Zaïka

Do you like Slovenia?
I like it a lot, a lot. That’s why I came back. It really is a beautiful country. I love nature and I am not a person for high traffic places so I can say that it is perfect for me.

You also have a mixed culture. Most of the year – when there is no epidemic – the city is dominated by tourists from all over the world. So you can also enjoy the different cultures here. And that’s a very beautiful thing about this country. Not overcrowded, very nice, very friendly people.

What about winters?
Honestly, I had never experienced this kind of temperature in my entire life. In my birthplace, the temperature reaches a maximum of 10 degrees Celsius, and we think “oh, it’s too cold”. When I got here it was minus 15. I was afraid to die. But the human body can acclimatize very quickly. Now it has become normal.

What about Slovenian cuisine?
Well as a muslim i cant eat pork so when i go out i always a little scared because most of the traditional Slovenian foods are dominated by pork or use pork fat to heighten the taste. But I like trukli, likrofi, prazen krompir, pasta, although bolognese, again I’m afraid there is a little pork fat in there, because the fat always gives a great taste.

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See the full menu. Photo: Zaïka

How many people work in the new location?

I would love to get some help with the cooking, but until then I’m the only person here – ordering the ingredients, cooking the food, keeping the place clean and the customers happy.

Who are your customers and what is selling well?
I receive both tourists and locals, because they are the ones who come to Trubarjeva. There is a great selection of Indian curries, but the best selling products are chicken makhani, tikka masala, subz diwani, hundi kofta, nazakat and naan.

Zaika offers service, take-out and delivery of meat, vegetarian and vegan dishes from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday. It’s very easy to find at 60 Trubarjeva cesta, just down from the famous Trubar cafe, home to one of the best donuts in Ljubljana, and – incredibly – still in business after you leave town and stop drinking there – low.

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See the full menu. Photo: Zaïka

This cafe, cake and ice cream shop is in good company with the many other small restaurants, bars and shops that make Trubarjeva a must-see street, easy to overlook but much easier and more fun to visit, leaving you well placed to the various attractions there or nearby, or a pleasant stroll along the river, perhaps an ice cream in hand and a heart open to the life of the city.


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