Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, Penn Quarter, The Features

Capital Chefs: Kaz Kazmi of Merzi (Part 2)

Photo courtesy of
‘Food’
courtesy of ‘MichaelTRuhl’

It’s easy to be intimidated by the prospect of cooking Indian food. Will it turn out right? Will my kitchen smell like curry for days? Am I better off ordering from a restaurant in town that actually knows what they’re doing? But take my word for it: making Indian food, really good Indian food, doesn’t have to be that hard. Save your pennies on having someone else make you chicken tikka masala; you can do this.

After the jump you’ll find Kaz Kazmi’s recipe for pakoras, a traditional Indian fried vegetable fritter. They’re flavorful and spicy and taste so good that before you know it the entire batch you made will be gone.
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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, Penn Quarter, The Features

Capital Chefs: Kaz Kazmi of Merzi (Part 1)

Photo courtesy of
‘Owner Qaiser Kazmi’
courtesy of ‘MichaelTRuhl’

There’s a phrase that comes to mind after talking to Qaiser (Kaz) Kazmi: “go big or go home.” The father of three and entrepreneur gave up the corporate life working in IT and set his sights on creating an Indian-inspired concept back in 2005. Today, he’s working on perfecting the first Merzi restaurant in Penn Quarter/Chinatown and looking to expand across the city, and eventually across the country.

Merzi, which means “choice” in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu, came about after Kaz found himself becoming less and less connected with his career and more and more invested in his passion for food. But for someone who wasn’t classically trained as a chef, there were a few bumps in the road. “In 2002, we were having some people over, and I said to my wife: ‘If these kabobs I make are delicious, then I’m ready for a restaurant,’” said Kaz, laughing a bit. As the story goes and as we’ve all experienced before in the kitchen, Kaz’s attempt to look for a sign from God or the stove ended in what he referred to as “terrible kabobs.”

But a few years of research and taste testing later, Kaz created a concept to bring Indian food to a level that is comfortable and  not intimidating for Americans.

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