Dhaka: Once great Bengali writer Syed Mujtaba Ali, in one of his stories, described how Bengal’s Rasgulla enchanted the hearts of some Italians by its taste. Nahid Hasan, hailed from Dhaka, has done the same through his restaurant Shanti that serves Bangla food only in the Swedish capital of Stockholm.
Nahid Hassan is a real entrepreneur who sees opportunities where others find obstacles. He is a diehard food lover also. He started his first restaurant Shanti Classic in Stockholm in 2000, after knowing that people with Bengali origin own more than 90% of Indian restaurants in Stockholm, but still the city had never tasted Bengali food. He decided to invest in the restaurant sector when he realised – after eating at numerous restaurants in top European cities – that the food served in Indian restaurants wasn’t that much authentic and genuine as they claim.
In time, Shanti Classic turned out to be a success; so, in 2008, he opened his second restaurant Shanti Soft Corner.
In 2013, he took a risk and opened Shanti Touch of Bengal, an eatery dedicated to Bangla food only. The food was inspired by real Bengali home cooking methods and dishes such as begun vadji dall, fish pulao and sorshe telapia now found their way in to the Swedish heart and stomachs. Even famous Swedish and international celebrities have found their way to Shanti.
Swedish royal prince Carl Philip, Nobel Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi, Bollywood director Shonali Bose, the Ambassadors of India and Bangladesh, Indian Master chef winner Saransh Goila are just a few of the many guests who have dined at and praised Shanti.
Nahid’s restaurants have won both the honorable Swedish restaurant prize Gulddraken and Asian Curry Award for best Bengali restaurant in Europe in 2013 and 2014.
Bangladesh is a poor country but its food culture is very rich: Nahid
Nahid consider himself as an ambassador of Bengali food culture. He wants to show the most beautiful side of Bangladesh and to him that is food. By doing so, he is also promoting his country and making people curious about Bangladesh and what it more could offer. Nahid loves Bengali food but is sad that the traditional Bengali food culture is starting to disappear in Bangladesh. In 2014, he opened his fourth restaurant, Shanti Gossip, which focused more on Bengali street food but in a cool and urban restaurant setting, serving dishes like fuska, Khichury with lamb bhuna, chatpoti and fuska.
His fifth restaurant, Shanti Ultimat Bengal, will open later this fall in Stockholm and will celebrate the seasonal food served in exclusive old Dhaka where Nahid grew up, with very old dishes typical for Bengali feasts. The interior design is also very important for Nahid who studied fashion design at the university before he became a restaurant owner. His restaurants have a warm and cozy feeling with old and modern touches combined.
Besides planning for the grand opening of his new restaurant, Nahid is developing his own cookbook and spice brand, organizes cooking classes, cook food in television and have several ongoing projects in Bangladesh.