Bookmark ILHAM – An Authentic Afghani Catering Service By Women Refugees

Do you ever have the craving for authentic Afghani food? Here’s a way you can satisfy those taste buds of yours, and feel super good about it. All you have to do is order food from a new catering service known as ‘Ilham’. For a taste of little drops of heaven, we suggest you do try eating the soft Meetha Khajur or the Afghani donut they make. Melting in your mouth, this sweet dish will make you forget all the other donuts you’ve ever had in your life!

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Run by seven Afghani refugee women with the assistance of Access Development Services, this social entrepreneurship project is a perfect example of the immense strength that people display in the face of adversity. Ilham is a result of collaboration between UNHCR and their livelihood partner, Access Development Services, a non- governmental organisation based in Vikas Puri. Driven particularly by the enthusiastic zeal of Aditi Sabbarwal, an employee with Access, this catering service started in November 2015. She was the first person to discover the huge potential of the culinary skills of these women. Making Ilham a reality was however not an easy job. From convincing her seniors at Access to bringing together the Afghani women to form one cohesive group, it took quite a while for Aditi to make everyone realise why giving this project a shot was worth it. Now that the catering service is gradually becoming popular amongst the food lovers of Delhi, one can surely see the reason behind her strong faith in the project.

Having arrived in India from different parts of conflict ridden Afghanistan, over the last few years, the women who work with Ilham have come a long way. Shadows of their violent past become obvious by the fact that all of them requested not to be named in this article. According to Shuchita Mehta, who works with the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), projects like Ilham are a fruit of the UNHCR’s firm belief in facilitating a life of dignity for refugees, one in which they are able to be self- reliant. Each of the members of Ilham specialises in certain offerings that their menu provides. The camaraderie that these women share shines through the way in which they work together while preparing food or even while just speaking with each other. They manage the logistic side of their business with the help of their translator, Zohra and Prakash, another employee at Access.

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A few things to keep in mind while ordering food from them. Being a relatively small project, they require a notice of 24 hours for small orders and 48 hours for the big ones. Since they are still trying to learn the local language and have certain security concerns due to their country’s background, they are not able to deliver food yet. Instead, there are two pick up or take away points from which you can collect your order – one is in Bhogal/Jangpura (Near Jain Temple) and the other is in Khirkee village (near Sai Mandir). To place your order, write to aditisabbarwal@accessdev.org.

Here’s their menu: [hyperlink]

Where: Bhogal/Jangpura (Nearest Metro Station: Jangpura)

Khirkee village (nearest metro station: Malviya Nagar)

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