SOUTHINGTON – Nína’s Desí Kitchen is working toward developing a franchise and has documented all recipes since opening in 2020, said Atif Anwar, co-owner of the kitchen.
“We have everything set up as a process,” Anwar said. “That anybody can walk in, go through the manual, and start cooking.”
Anwar said the kitchen tries to make Pakistani food “not too scary.”
The kitchen sells Pakistani cuisine and street food, he said.
“Our food is very consistent,” he said. “Anything you order from us will look exactly like the photo on the menu.”
According to Anwar, he mixes and grinds his own spices.
“We started making the spice mixes so anybody can just read the instructions and start cooking,” he said. “We sell our own spices on Amazon.”
Anwar said the spices he uses are handpicked or handmade, and he butchers the meat in the kitchen.
“You will see the difference when you try it,” he said.
According to Anwar, the Southington community has responded positively to his kitchen.
“There’s a Facebook group for the town, and every time we mention something, we get a lot of support,” he said. “So it’s a good time.”
Anwar said the kitchen opened at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Between March 10 and 11t, we had our doors open, which was during the time of covid,” he said. “So, keeping that in mind, we did pretty OK.”
Anwar said he and his wife, Nina Atif, established the kitchen as a takeout business. After a week of being open, everything was shut down by the pandemic.
“Doing takeout was kind of a blessing in disguise,” Anwar said. “We didn’t need tables and chairs, and we were already set up for curbside pickup.”
According to Anwar, doing takeout for the kitchen was why it “survived the pandemic.” Anwar said the most popular food item in the kitchen is chicken handi with white rice.
“We participated in the Apple Harvest Festival and served chicken handi with white rice,” he said. “Since then, that became our top seller, and people still walk in after a whole year has passed and ask for the item.”
Anwar said he opened a Pakistani food restaurant since most serve Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi cuisine together.
“We planned on doing Pakistani food alone so people can see the difference,” he said. “It made sense to us.”
According to Anwar, he and his wife found the kitchen space on Craigslist. He said the two spent four months looking for a place to start the restaurant.
Summer is busier for the kitchen and attracts many customers, said Anwar. He said he tries to stay closed on most holidays.
“There’s a culture around each holiday in the US, which does not include Pakistani food for the July 4 or Memorial Day,” he said. “We try not to interfere with the overall food culture.”
Nína’s Desí Kitchen is located at 26 N Main St, Southington.