Published: 01st October 2019
Nawab's Kitchen: These men in Hyderabad cooking for 200 kids are going viral
His viral channel has over 220 videos — from the iconic Nizami biryani to a non-oven recipe of black forest cake. We speak to Khwaja Moinuddin who feeds thousands of orphan children in Hyderabad
Imagine this picture. A giant cake (I'm talking 45 kilograms 'giant'!) and children with smiling faces surrounding it because their tummies feel extremely happy. Along with them is a man also with a perennial smile on his face, donning a white kurta and a taqiyah adorning his head. Does it remind of something you saw in a video on Facebook or YouTube? Well, you guessed it right, we are indeed talking about Khwaja Moinuddin, whose YouTube channel Nawab's Kitchen Food For All Orphans has already gained 1.2 million subscribers — and his videos showing him cooking massive amounts of food in an open green field to feed orphans, have gone viral in the past few weeks.
A former journalist with a prominent Telugu channel in Hyderabad, he left his regular-paying job to feed children who are in dire need of food. "Along with two of my friends, I started Nawab's Kitchen in 2017, when we were already in a 9 to 5 job. We had to take leave during the week and that created a lot of pressure on us. We were not reaching office on time, taking more leave than usual and so there was a lot of pressure. We thought we will be able to manage both the jobs, but it turned out to be quite hectic," says Khwaja.
Born of a need to feed the hungry
Khwaja explains when they first began Nawab's Kitchen their aim was not to become famous, but to feed hungry children as there's a different kind of satisfaction that they feel while doing that. "We were just not satisfied with the 9 to 5 job. We decided we will quit anyway, even if this was not a success," says Khwaja. The 39-year-old, along with his friends Bhagat Reddy and Srinath Reddy never thought that it would be so successful. "Our aim was and still is to feed poor and hungry children for free," he adds.
Born into a middle-class family in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, he has always had a passion for cooking food, he says. "I was always passionate about cooking and feeding people. Guests use to come to our house and I used to cook for them. I began trying out special recipes and it turned out great. And so, I became confident," he laughs, adding, "The first few days we were apprehensive if I would be able to cook in such large quantities, but then gradually I became a master of it. I believe it's god's gift to me. And I can bet you can't get the same quality biriyani anywhere in Hyderabad."
All-rounder: An MBA graduate, the 39-year-old worked for TV channels like ETV and ABN for close to 13 years
The art of cooking en masse
All the cooking is done at a politician's farmhouse 122 kilometres away from Hyderabad, for which they separately took permission. While Khwaja is the master chef among the trio, video shooting and editing is done by Bhagat, promotion, calls, sponsors and scheduling is all taken care of by Srinath. Khwaja makes food for at least 180-200 people every day. And if there is leftover food, they distribute it at the nearest slum.
So, how does becoming a viral sensation in such a short time feel? To this, Khwaja responds, "The fact that these videos are viral doesn't make me happy, what really makes me happy is when someone calls us and appreciates the work we are doing and seeing the smile on the kids' faces when they say that the food is tasty — that's exactly when I feel content." The largest cake Khwaja has made till date was a pineapple flavoured one that weighed 45 kilograms. Made with firewood, it took at least 4-6 hours to bake. But of course, it was a massive hit among the kids, he says.
I did not tell my parents and relatives until after six months of quitting my full-time job and doing this. Only my wife knew about Nawab's Kitchen. They were at first a bit surprised but later became extremely supportive
Khwaja Moinuddin, Founder, Nawab's Kitchen
Let them donate (and eat cake)
For the first 10 videos, Khwaja and his friends pooled in money from their savings. Following this, they have been receiving funding from people and well-wishers around the world. "We got our first ever funding from someone in Rajasthan which was Rs 1000. Later, the amount began to increase. We never ask for money, so people donate whatever they feel like. Each video takes approximately 8-10k to make. Whoever gives money, if there is some money left after the video is made we use it for the next or we use it for a greater cause like the recent Kerala floods," says Khwaja.
Through Nawab's Kitchen, under the same brand name, Khwaja wants to create an organisation or foundation where at least 200-250 poor kids can get education and consume best quality food. "It might take two years or more to set up this up, but we would like to do something like this and run it as transparently as possible," he concludes.