‘Tiffin Aaw’: Meet food rangers who serve free meals to COVID patients in Kashmir
Srinagar: At the beginning of the fasting month, Rayees Ahmad had made a special ‘Ramadhan Iftar menu’ for his popular ‘Tiffin Aaw’ service.
Started in February last year, the tiffin service had become popular especially among the office-goers. They would mostly serve the traditional and almost forgotten dishes of Kashmir valley.
However, once the Coronavirus pandemic tightened its grip last month, Rayees started receiving distress calls from the COVID positive patients or their far-off relatives who were unable to cook food for them.
Rayees and his wife Nida Rehman then decided to do away with the ‘Ramadhan Iftar menu’ and started preparing healthy food for COVID patients in consultation with the doctors.
He also then started a #food4kashmir social media campaign that received overwhelming support and now ‘Tiffin Aaw’ serves free food to distressed COVID patients.
“We had made a special Ramadhan iftar menu for the fasting month but then, we started receiving distress calls. Some people would even cry and tell us ‘I am in the USA or Dubai. My family is positive and they cannot cook, please send them food’. We then suspended our paid service and for the time being, we are only delivering free meals. We presently only cater to COVID positive patients or their attendants and serve them free food,” Rayees told The Kashmir Monitor.
When ‘Tiffin Aaw’ had started its service, it was known for serving traditional delicacies like ‘alle yakhin’ (bottle-gourd cooked in yogurt), ‘gogjare te zombere thool’ (dried turnip and boiled egg) and ‘nadur te palak’ (lotus-stem and spinach) among others. But, they now serve food keeping in view the requirements of COVID patients.
“We consulted several doctors including Dr. Naveed Nazir Shah and many others and asked what kind of food we should serve to COVID positive patients. We now have chicken and mutton soup and also homemade biryani. We cook what everybody else including the attendants can eat,” he said.
Besides three cooks, around 10 other members presently comprise the ‘Tiffin Aaw’ team.
Interestingly, last year too, ‘Tiffin Aaw’ was delivering food to doctors, attendants, and patients during the pandemic but that time it was a paid service.
“We are overwhelmed by the support we received and we will continue this service till the pandemic is here. We received a lot of support (financial and otherwise) from people,” Rayees added.