In a bid to boost the local product and revive the lost traditional practice, a Kashmiri businessman has started a curd supply-chain in the classic package.
ZAHID Iqbal Shah’s day starts early. The suave man leaves his Buchpora Srinagar home for his manufacturing-unit in Gulab Bagh, where he collects milk from different dealers. He pools the milk to make “pure and organic” curd.
This might read like a quintessential milkman’s introduction before one gets to know how the self-starter in his mid-forties is currently backing the local products and reviving the lost traditional packaging that Kashmir lost to plastic trends of times.
Zahid supplies his clay-pot curd in different sizes and shapes to markets, marriage functions, commercial events and entities.
He sells over 500 curd-pots by afternoon, with the demand for ‘ethnic kashur’ product only growing by the day.
“One of the things I’ve learned about our community is that we Kashmiris support local brands if they know how to serve it well,” Zahid says.
“It’s all about maintaining quality and service. If you can do that, you’re are bound to succeed in the local market despite its shortcomings and situational challenges.”
This business belief helped him build his brand during the Covid crisis.
Like others held hostage in their homes by the coronavirus last year, Zahid was desperately brainstorming about something productive.
By June 2020, when the viral fret had almost disrupted Kashmir’s localized support system—helping the strife region to overcome turmoil—he had his eureka moment.
Delivering curd in a traditional package when the lockdown-ridden people were getting essential services at their doorsteps made him quite an optimist.
“It was like conceiving something out of chaos,” Zahid maintains. “And this made sense too given how Kashmir badly needed such a localized initiative for sending out a positive message that things can click in crisis with some creative application of mind.”
Driven by this determined mindset, Zahid threw his weight behind his brainchild. And a little over a year later, he isn’t regretting his decision.
“Alhamdulillah,” he says, “the response is overwhelming.”
Today, Zahid is supplying ‘Kashur Zamutdoudh’—the milk product of his brand, A.T Dairies—to every nook and cranny of the city. With positive feedback and word of mouth, his business is only growing by leaps and bounds.
“One of the things which clicked for us is the pure quality of our curd,” Zahid says as he takes us on a guided tour of his manufacturing unit. “You will get a home-feeling when you taste it.”
Since curd is a notable food item and an essential part of Wazwan in Kashmir, it has a huge market appetite.
“The customers liked the idea of supplying the curd in traditional clay pots rather than usual plastic packaging during feasts and parties,” Zahid continues.
“But beyond the hailing response, the idea was to revive the old culture and to give a boost to local potters.”
However, before becoming a self-starter cum cultural revivalist, Zahid soon after graduating from Srinagar’s Gandhi Memorial College had tried his luck in carry-bag making business.
But as he finally found his call in curd, he intends to expand his business to other district headquarters of Kashmir now.
“I’ve worked very hard on this venture but Allah showed me the way,” he says. “I believe success only comes gradually without any shortcuts.”
His six-staff members and scores of outworkers are currently feeding market with three curd packages — 220-ml pot, 300-ml pot and 550-ml pot.
“Among them, 300-ml curd pot has a lot of demand for weddings and other functions organized by hoteliers,” Zahid says.
“The idea at the end of the day is to promote the local product and the local industry. With this resolve, I’ve started Kashur Zamutdoudh.”
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.