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Kabul's meals on wheels

Masood Momin
A chain of burger rickshaws in Kabul is threatening to challenge traditional culinary practices in the Afghan capital.
7.04.2015  |  Kabul

The latest food sensation in the Afghan capital is Mr. Cod, Kabul's first British-style fish and chips store, although a chain of mobile burger stores started the fast food craze last year. Lazeez trucks sell hamburgers, kebabs and hot dogs on busy thoroughfares such as Darul Aman and Airport Road across Kabul.

Afghan entrepreneurs Naweed Noori and Abdullah Kareem opened the fast food chain with an initial investment of 150,000 US dollars.  “We did Internet research and saw that there are several similar mobile restaurants in Toronto, Canada,” says Noori, a 26-year-old computer sciences graduate. Noori and his cousin Kareem founded Lazeez (which means “delicious" in national language Dari). “Within six months we built the first mobile restaurant on a rickshaw,” says Noori.

In May 2014 Lazeez launched eight food rickshaws parked across the city. The company now generates a profit of more than 45,000 afghani (750 US dollars) per day and employs 27 people, including three women.

Shuja used to be a driver with the Lazeez but now runs a branch of the burger chain parked on Airport Road. “Back then, I could not make an egg,” says Shuja, “but after some training, I can now make different types of fast foods and serve my people.” Lazeez managing director Noori says his fast food rickshaws now serve more than 20 types of food including burgers, sandwiches, kebabs, German sausages and fries. “We plan to build 20 more restaurants in Kabul and then expand into other provinces,” says Noori, who has already built a legion of loyal aficionados with his eight debut outlets.   

“The French fries and the samosas are delicious,” says Abdul Razaq, a local banana seller who claims he eats at the fast food store everyday. Not everybody is convinced however. “I do not like to eat here,” says Jaweed, a 17-year-old schoolboy standing by one of the Lazeez rickshaws.  “Their foods are expensive. I want to eat shawarma, but it is expensive. It is ninety afghani (1.5 US dollars),” complains the schoolboy.