The one thing most people on the newer side of Tawi Bridge in Jammu miss out on is good food simply because either there is no information on the places or because people on the newer side of the bridge are too lazy to go to old city with complaints of traffic and small lanes.
However, to reach this particular man, you would not have to atleast battle the small lane problem. What you may find problematic is the wait for your turn. The one thing that we can guarantee, and this is the consensus of our team in general, that you would not find Seekh Kebabs better than what Mohammed Ayub serves. His seekhs are great because the Kebabs are not only made out of Mutton alone, it has other pieces as well and we won’t tell you so you can go and find on your own.
The size of his seekh kebabs is actually bigger than what you can find around. He doesn’t use any spices considering the small children who eat at his stall. His Steaks are the juiciest and the softest you would find in Jammu city as a guarantee. The garnishing Anardana chutney is out of the world.
He sets up his stall right opposite the church at Karan Nagar, Amphalla. You may also ask anyone near Amphalla Jail about Chacha seekhon waala and you will be directed easily.
Mohammed Ayub, 78, has been serving his delicious seekhs for over four decades and if you ask him he will quote the exact figure of 45 years and 2 months. He started in 1960 and is famously known as “Chacha Seekhon Waala”, a name he got ten years after he initially started.
Mohammed Ayub started off his stall only to support his two sons and two daughters, all of whom studied at Luthra Academy. One of the sons is a doctor and the other is a branch manager in J&K bank. His daughters are also well settled: one of them is married to a doctor and the other to a top ranked government officer in the LMD department in Srinagar.
When we asked him what has changed in Jammu from the time he started to now, he said,
“A seekh used to be 25 paise that time, it is rs 40 now. Meat used to be Rs 40/kg, it is now rs. 350. I thank almighty for the gift he s granted. Once people eat here, they don’t like the taste at other places.”
“The doctors have asked me not to do this because of the smoke and the fat,” he says.
Chacha Ji listens only to radio through a transistor which is 22 years old. He starts his work at 4:30 in the morning, preparing salad, chutney anardana and arranging for the mutton. He sets up shop at 5 30pm daily excluding Tuesdays and Navratri. This is also because he is averse to muslim customers. When asked why he jokes, “They complain too much about why have you put liver, why fat (charbi)? I point in that direction down the road and say, go find something there!”
Chacha Ji has a dedicated customer base. We met a customer who comes twice every week from Sidhra and another one who comes atleast once a month from Kathua. He claims that two of his patrons are Omar and Farooq Abdullah.
Mohammed Ayub never thought of expanding his business. He says, “I do it alone and it will end with me.”
You try and dig in further and you would find out that he does his work for passion alone and does not really need the money. He earlier used to do it for his children who are now well settled and so doesn’t care for money anymore. He even gave us three seekhs for free 😛
“I cannot sit at home and do nothing so I come here to kill my time,” he said, offering us three extra seekhs.