By Syed Asma
Have your ever tasted a Walnut Fudge! If not, then you are surely missing one of the most talked about exclusivity of Kashmir’s bakery. A mixture of walnut, honey and dates, Walnut Fudge is the brain child of Mehraj-ud-Din’s ‘Moonlight’ bakery located at Dargah, Hazratbal.
From a distance, Moonlight bakery look like any other ordinary shop. But once you step inside, the shops 119 year old legacy takes you over instantly. “We inherited art of baking from our forefathers,” says Mehraj-ud-Din.
For most part of their history Moonlight catered to foreigners visiting the valley. “It has been just last two decades that local market is keeping us business,” says Mehraj-ud-Din, 60, who rarely visits the shop now.
Since last five years the shop is run by his lone son Moonis Mehraj. Apart from offering exclusivities like Walnut Fudge and Ginger Biscuits, Moonlight sells everything related to bakery as well. “We are famous for Walnut Fudge and Ginger Biscuits. You won’t find these anywhere else,” claims Moonis, a business management diploma holder from Bangalore.
But it is the Walnut Fudge that draws maximum crowd for Moonlight. “I have been approached by many local and international investors who want us to be part of them,” says Moonis.
But Moonis’ father is against shifting his business anywhere outside Srinagar. “He is my only son. I don’t want to lose him,” says Mehraj-ud-Din.
Moonis, who was recently approached by a Dubai based businessman for copyrights of his exclusive products, feels that any expansion will affect the quality of his bakery.
So far Moonis and his father have kept the recipe of Walnut Fudge and Ginger Biscuits to themselves only. Every morning the father son duos prepare these exclusive items on their own. “The consumption is almost 100 pieces a day. That way we are able to maintain the quality.”
The recipe was first prepared by Ghulam Mohammed, Moonis’ grandfather. Since then it is part of family’s legacy. “We want to maintain the secrecy of this recipe. That is why we don’t involve any outside chefs,” says Moonis.
Recently a businessman had offered Moonis and his father Rs 60 lakh to purchase the recipe but they rejected the offer out rightly. “We own it and want to retain it till we can,” says Moonis.
All Moonis could reveal about his exclusive products is that Walnut Fudge contains three natural ingredients: 90 percent walnut, 5 percent dates and 5 percent honey.
To maintain the quality they purchase ‘snow-white walnuts’ from Uri and honey from a family friend. Their (suppliers) association is as old as the history of the Walnut Fudge itself. “Since we have started to bake the fudge, my grandfather has purchased honey from that family only,” says Moonis.
And the dates they purchase from the local wholesale market. The products shelf life is 20 days and needs no refrigeration.
Mehraj business is confined to one shop only, but it is a famous address. Lately Omar Abdullah and Sushil Kumar Shinde had visited them to taste some Walnut Fudges.