Kamloops has a new Pakistani restaurant

From Karachi to Kamloops

"It wasn’t something we had initially planned," says Amna Ahmed.

She, along with her mother, brother and cousin, have opened a new restaurant in Kamloops. Spezia House is likely the first Pakistani restaurant ever in the city, and is certainly the only one here now. With it comes things like homemade biryani, paratha and haleem.

"In Pakistan, we had our own restaurant. It was very famous for BBQ and grilling," says Ahmed's mother, Nuzhad Ayesha. "When we saw there were no halal Pakistani restaurants over here, we decided to open one."

The family moved to Kamloops about a year-and-half ago after Ahmed's brother and Muhammad Naeem, their cousin, were accepted at TRU.

"Like the students that come, we were just struggling and working and everything and we love to cook, right?" says Ahmed. "So we made friends and they were like ‘can you please cook for us? Can you cook that for us? We’re having a party.’"

"That’s how it started," she continues. "Cooking for friends and family, and then everybody started telling us how good we were cooking and we should definitely do this."

The restaurant is really a group effort, with a lot of the food requiring handmade items and some requiring long cook times.

"We’re a team, four members, so definitely there is a lot of working hands working all together," Naaem says.

Being that there aren't a lot of ingredients they would have found in Karachi around Kamloops, they have to do a lot by hand, including grinding spices. Ayesha says fresh spices are essential to their cooking.

"We make our own spices, we grind them because because spices have aroma – so when you grind fresh it gives a good aroma," she says.

The mother and daughter both have specialties in the kitchen. For Ahmed it's biryani, bbq (done Pakistan-style with yogurt and spices) and cheesy chicken parathas.

"The chicken cheesy paratha that I make is something that was born in Karachi," she says. "I know it’s similar to a quesadilla, but that exact same thing — the chicken cheesy paratha — is something that was invented in Karachi. That’s the street food that we’ve grown up eating."

For Ayesha it's curries – which use fresh, traditional spices.

They're also bringing dishes most locals have likely never heard of, including haleem and nihari.

"One thing you’re only going to find here and nowhere else in Kamloops is going to be nihari and haleem," says Ahmed.

"It’s really hard to make because we cook for, Nahari, the bones overnight and haleem overnight with lentils and chicken," Ayesha says.

Naaem says the response has been great in the first three weeks of business, with word spreading beyond Kamloops. They had a group driving from Alberta to Vancouver stop by after reading about Spezia House online.

Ahmed adds that students from Pakistan are also excited to see Spezia House open.

"We have students that have come to us and they’re moved, they’re like ‘oh we ate your food and we literally felt like we were at home and felt like we were eating our mother’s food,’" she says. "Which is the highest compliment we could ever get, right?"

Spezia House is located at what's become a bit of an international food court at 340 Victoria Street. They're open 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday. For more information, click here or call 1-236-852-1927.

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