Bring­ing Kazakh flair to a Kiwi clas­sic

Western Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - MAHVASH ALI

Is there any­thing bet­ter than a Kiwi meat pie?

You may think noth­ing comes close to a good old mince and cheese - but a new cafe in Glen­dene is mix­ing the New Zealand favourite with a taste of Kaza­khstan.

Owner and chef Raha As­sil­bekov of BLD Cafe in the Glen­dene vil­lage shop­ping cen­tre says his ‘‘top se­cret’’ pas­try recipe is melt-in-your-mouth.

‘‘You will not find this kind of pas­try any­where else in New Zealand.’’

But you can for­get about ground up mince, the meat in his pies only come diced.

He says he tried at least 50 dif­fer­ent recipes be­fore fi­nal­is­ing the one he would use for his new­ly­opened cafe.

As­sil­bekov says his tech­nique and recipe are de­rived from a com­bi­na­tion of what he learned from chefs and home cooks in Kaza­khstan.

He re­searched many tech­niques, and tri­alled many flavour com­bi­na­tions so that his recipes suit the Kiwi palate while re­main­ing au­then­tic, he says.

As­sil­bekov says he is one of about 100 Kazakh peo­ple in New Zealand.

The West­gate res­i­dent moved to New Zealand 10 years ago and trained as a chef in Auck­land.

As­sil­bekov says he al­ways cooked tra­di­tional meals for his fam­ily, so start­ing a cafe that served a blend of Kiwi and Kaza­khstani food seemed like the most ob­vi­ous choice.

‘‘You will not find this kind of pas­try any­where else in New Zealand’’

Raha As­sil­bekov

And he says he wants pa­trons to feel a dif­fer­ence from the mo­ment they step in­side his on-ofa-kind cafe.

The ceil­ing is de­signed like a yurt - a Kaza­khstani home - and the walls are embellished with tra­di­tional sym­bols rep­re­sent­ing unity.

The item he is most look­ing for­ward to in­tro­duce on the menu is char­coal cooked meat on skew­ers.

The lamb pieces are ‘‘ex­tra­suc­cu­lent’’ be­cause of the spices and mar­i­na­tion tech­nique used, he says.

And yes, a hero’s wel­come awaits Sasha Baron Cohen - also known as Bo­rat - should he wan­der into the Glen­dene cafe.

‘‘Bo­rat put my coun­try on the map.’’

BLD cafe is cur­rently open for both break­fast and lunch.

It is lo­cated at the Glen­dene Vil­lage Shop­ping Cen­tre 4343 Great North Rd, Glen­dene.

MAHVASH ALI

Chef Raha As­sil­bekov says he wants to give Ki­wis a taste of Kaza­khstan with BLD Cafe.

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