TD Conversations: Ahmed Farid, Hurrem’s

Hurrem’s has brought to India authentic Turkish flavours, from the world-famous baklava to traditional flatbreads such as pide. Ahmed Farid, co-founder, tells us about the brand’s journey so far and things we can look forward to.

Turkey is rather popular in India, whether it be as a tourism destination or as the inspiration for the country’s many delicacies that have caught on in our culinary world. In Mumbai, this love affair with Turkey has culminated in the launch of Hurrem’s, India’s first authentic Turkish baklava brand. Named after Hurrem Sultan, a queen of the Ottoman Empire, one of the period’s most influential women and known for her lavish lifestyle, Hurrem’s flagship store was inaugurated in a plush space in Mumbai’s Fort in November 2019, just months before the dreaded pandemic swept the country.

We caught up with co-founder and promoter Ahmed Farid to gain insights into the inspiration behind the brand, the journey so far and the scope of Turkish flavours with Indian consumers.    

Ahmed farid co founder and promoter hurrems
Ahmed Farid, co-founder, Hurrem’s, wanted to present to the evolving Indian diner an authentic Turkish experience given that the cuisine is still under-represented here.

TD: What was the inspiration behind launching the brand, bringing Turkish flavours to India?

AF: For over a year before we launched Hurrem’s, nearly two years back in November 2019, we observed the evolving needs of the Indian consumer in the food and beverage industry. The demand for high quality products and authentic, global culinary experiences was increasing at a rapid pace. Today, consumers have increased awareness about global cuisines, are well-travelled and have developed a more refined palate; they are seeking experiences out of the ordinary. While India offers a host of F&B brands bringing to audiences authentic cuisines from around the globe, we found that authentic Turkish cuisine, with its immense flavours, decadent desserts and several spices and condiments was under-represented. Hence, catering to this requirement without any compromise was the core to our enterprise, Hurrem’s, India’s first ever Turkish baklava brand.

The freshly baked baklava with its golden layers of pastry offers one a true essence of Turkish indulgence. Over the years, it has become one of the world’s most loved desserts and we are delighted to bring to the country authentic, handcrafted Turkish baklava and confectioneries. To give guests a true taste of Turkey, our offerings are prepared with utmost passion and care by Turkish chefs who have trained in Gaziantep and Istanbul. All our offerings at Hurrem’s are 100 per cent vegetarian and our chefs have carefully designed recipes to ensure that the taste remains uncompromised.

TD: How did you go about choosing the team of chefs behind the menu?

AF: Hurrem’s was launched with the core objective of bringing to India an authentic Turkish culinary experience, with a focus on preparing offerings using traditional Turkish techniques, ingredients and methods and one way to achieve this was by bringing chefs on board who had experienced and mastered the cuisine, having lived in Turkey. Hence, prior to the launch of Hurrem’s in India, we took several trips to Turkey to understand the nuances of the cuisine – its flavours, aromas, techniques, and the rich history that surrounds it. Studying the cuisine and the cultural heritage that it is steeped in also involved meeting with several chefs who could potentially lead the creative direction at Hurrem’s.

It was on one of these trips where we were acquainted with the handcrafted magic of our current chefs at Hurrem’s. The pure authenticity and unrivalled expertise that they bring to the table with their decades of experience learning and mastering the cuisine in Turkey has resulted in Hurrem’s bringing an unmatched Turkish dining experience to patrons in India.

TD: What was the process of choosing the location for the store and designing the space?

We launched Hurrem’s with our store and café situated in the heart of the city at Fort, Mumbai – a bustling part of the city. While looking for a space, our current location stood out for several reasons – its prime location, the heritage status of the building, its high ceilings and beautiful French windows. Entering the space immediately takes you to the quaint cafes in Turkey complete with luxe interiors, the welcoming aroma of freshly baked baklava and the calming sound of the music.

In order to beautifully recreate the magic of Turkey within our café and store, we brought on board two Turkish architects to design a space that aspired to take guests on a culinary journey through the streets of Turkey right from the comfort of their own city. The primary focus while designing the store was to create harmony by mixing traditional and modern forms of design elements while emulating luxury and extravagance – core elements of Turkish architecture. Our café and store consists of a beautiful dessert bar showcasing our signature baklava in all of its golden glory, a dine-in section, a beverage bar to trial aromatic Turkish teas and coffee, as well as an extensive nut bar showcasing a wide range of nuts, dried fruits and dates.

Today, guests can choose to enjoy the Hurrem’s experience at a number of locations throughout the city. Right from our store-in-store concept at Foodhall Bandra and JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu to our recently launched Hurrem’s tea-lounge at Foodhall Vama, all of our spaces emulate the design and experience of our flagship store.

Our café and store is now open for dine-in keeping in mind government guidelines and the safety of our patrons and members of staff.

TD: You started off with sweeter flavours and savouries too. How did you think of striking a balance?

AF: We launched Hurrem’s with an extensive dessert and savoury menu. Soups, salads, traditional Turkish flatbreads such as Pide and Borek have been a part of our menu since the very beginning. Our goal at Hurrem’s has always been to bring to patrons a true taste of authentic Turkish delicacies. While our core focus has been on our signature offering, the authentic Turkish baklava and confectionery, we have been building other categories to bring to our patrons a variety of classic flavours from Turkey.

The food in Turkey is influenced by and centred around Meve – dried fruits and nuts from the region. Hence, it is these flavours and aromas that take centre-stage through our offerings at Hurrem’s. We recently introduced a whole new menu with over 30 confectionery and savoury offerings. Our focus has been on using authentic Turkish flavours as the basis of our menu – whether sweet or savoury.

TD: What does the future hold for Hurrem’s? What are your plans going ahead?

AF: We have a number of plans in the works.

• Gifting as a key aspect: Gifting is a huge focus for us and we are here to set a new trend in luxe gifting: authentic, Turkish baklava and confectionery, suitable for every occasion, from anniversaries to weddings, as well as festivals. We regularly launch themed offerings for festivals and celebrations in India which ranges from a classic box of assorted baklava to a luxe hamper consisting of Hurrem’s most premium offerings packaged in beautiful hand painted and hand carved wooden boxes to name a few.

• Expanding Hurrem’s footprint: We are looking at reaching a wider audience by expanding our presence in the county. We have approached this in the past year by adopting a multi-channel approach to reach our customers when and where they preferred. As a result of which we now offer the Hurrem’s experience via a store-in-store at Foodhall Bandra, a lounge concept at Foodhall Vama and the recently launched SIS at JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu (apart from our Flagship store at Fort, Mumbai). A couple of more stores are in the pipeline for this calendar year.

• Diversifying into newer categories: Having understood the Turkish flavours and ingredients that work well with the Indian palate, we introduced over 30 new offerings to our already extensive 100 per cent vegetarian menu, taking customers on a sensory journey through Turkey. We aim to expand our menu in order to bring to patrons truly authentic Turkish delicacies from time to time.

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