Shah Taj Khan (Pune)
A man dressed in a white kurta-pajama and a skullcap; wearing a smiling countenance as he cooks a mega meal in the lush fields and posts on social media is not a professional cook. Khawaja Moinuddin, who runs one of the most viewed and popular YouTube channels Nawab’s Kitchen, is a former journalist and he cooks delicious food to feed the orphans.
Nawab’s Kitchen was started five years ago by Moinduddin and his two colleagues Srinath Reddy and Bhagat Reddy, who quit their jobs with a famous media company in Hyderabad in 2017 to launch this social venture. It has 2.78 million subscribers and so far has posted 843 videos the viewership of each going into millions. With the tagline of Food for all orphans, the motive of the channel is evident.
As he worked for the media for 12 years in Hyderabad, he sometimes cooked for orphans and posted videos of it on social media. When one of his videos went viral, his bosses asked him to either stop this distraction or leave the job.
Khwaja Moinuddin serving food
In September 2017, Moinuddin, Bhagat, and Srinath quit their jobs to pursue their beliefs.
Today while Moinuddin is the face of Nawab’s kitchen, Bhagat looks after the pre-production, selecting recipes and arranging ingredients, and Srinath arranges sponsors. The three friends now employ 12 people in the office.
Speaking with Awaz-the Voice from Hyderabad on the phone, Moinuddin explained how it all started. "One day, I cooked biryani and fed to my wife. She liked it a lot. This inspired me and I started cooking.”
Khawaja Moinuddin was born in Guntur, Telangana, and his family later settled in Hyderabad. He thanks the Almighty for his success. "I started this job after a lot of contemplation. I didn't know that I would get so much attention and love from people; just wanted to feed the kids some good food."
Moinuddin of Nawab's Kitchen wearing his characterstic smile
He remembers the day he was asked to make a choice." I was called into the office and told that you are not allowed to do anything else along with the job. You have to give up one of the two jobs," he says.
..And he quit.
Moinuddin's wife Nahida Begum not only appreciated his passion and desire to feed the children but also encouraged him to go ahead. She told him, "Feeding the children is a noble work and you will be blessed.”
Till that time, Nawab’s Kitchen had only posted six videos and only one had gone viral. With Nahida’s assurance, Moinuddin was singularly focused on cooking and feeding the children.
Moinuddin explains: "I think it was always in my subconscious. Whenever I saw a poor person I would feel sad. I especially remember helpless orphaned children eating food from dustbins and tracks at the Railway stations. The food these children get is not good; I wanted to feed them good and tasty food.”
Poster of one of his videos
Moinuddin initially spent his money to cook food for the invited children – mostly from orphanages. Soon, many good samaritans came forward to support his work. "Today, we spent at least Rs 25,000 on preparing a single meal,” he said.
For a delicious feast for the children, Moin prepares food with his team of seven people in an open field. Then he serves the food to the children on a plate. The smiling faces of the children and the joy around the entire event are infectious even on-screen.
Moinuddin and his team prepare food for several orphanages in Hyderabad. When he started it in September 2017, cooking in the open field and serving children was a new idea. The consumers used the video as a cookery lesson while Nawab’s Kitchen got its much-needed revenue from monetizing the videos because of their blockbuster viewership and the children enjoyed a delicious meal.
Khwaja Moinuddin with children of slums
Moinuddin recalls an incident from his childhood.
"I was very young then. I was traveling on a train. Looking out of the window, I saw a girl who had raised her palm to seek food from the passengers. I saw children picking leftover idlis that people had thrown away on the track. I was very sad to see this. Thinking of that incident I would tell myself that whenever I get a chance. I will feed these children. Allah has fulfilled my wish.”
Moinuddin says he will continue to feed the orphans and the poor children as long as he can. Though Nawab’s Kitchen initially focused only on orphanages, during the Covid-19 it went to Jhuggis and villages inhabited by tribes to feed them.
These days, Nawab’s Kitchen serves food at the orphanage twice a week and for children of shanties thrice a week.
Moinuddin making preparation for cooking
Recently, Khawaja Moinuddin's team reached some of the tribal areas of Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, and they cooked delicious food in the local surroundings.
Moinuddin said, "When we reached these tribal areas, the people there were not even familiar with basmati rice. We stayed there for several days and fed the people of three or four villages.”
He says words fail to describe his experience in these villages. "Moinuddin’s team carrying big pots and other equipment in the open field is now ready to bring the smell and pleasure of Nawabi food outside the city of Hyderabad.
His sojourn in the tribal villages of Vizag had triggered another dream in his mind. Moinuddin wants to set up a school for the tribal children.
Khwaja Moinuddin with a fish
With a voice choking with emotions, Moinuddin said on the phone, "When I go to poor settlements, I find the condition of the aged people among the poor very bad. They need care and support. I want to build a home for them, a home where the elderly with no means can live comfortably. I am constantly trying for this.”
"I want to feed everyone and later eat my food." Despite not being a professional cook, the reaction of children who eat the food, reveals its taste. Though he mostly prepares non-vegetarian food like mughlai and tandoori dishes, he also cooks vegetable meals like baingan ki biryani, falooda kulfi, halwa, etc,
Today, Khawaja Moinuddin’s work is not only about feeding people, but it has ended up promoting mutual love and brotherhood. He says wherever he goes, people give him a lot of love and respect.