Uprooted Crimean Tatar Restaurant Finds New Home in Kyiv

Crimea, Culture

Musafir is the most popular restaurant in Kyiv serving Crimean Tatar cuisine. The word “Musafir” means “guest”. The restaurant itself is, in fact, a guest in the capital. Ever since the original Musafir in Bakhchysarai was closed after the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, it had to be moved to another city.

“It wasn’t easy, our biggest fans at the beginning were our neighbours, who were actually very nice. Mostly Ukrainians. It was very nice. Then we thought: ‘Ok, how can we make Tatars come?’. I think the most important move was to have live music,” says Sorina Seitveliev, a co-owner.

Within two years after its launch, the new “Musafir” became so popular, that the owners had to expand to accommodate all the guests. They say that two reasons for the popularity are good teamwork and authenticity.

“We know the taste of dishes, because they have always been prepared in our families. And we are also used to cooking these dishes from childhood, and we know how they should taste. And when we opened a restaurant here, we brought a team of chefs from Crimea, and they taught our cooks here how it’s properly prepared,” says Emine Emirsaliieva, a co-owner.

Muhammad from Jordan was also taught to prepare Crimean Tatar dishes. The best-selling dish here is Cheburek — a deep-fried pastry with various fillings.

“They’re all popular. People order all the kinds: with meat, cheese, the bryndza cheese. Each cheburek needs 50 grams of dough, 50 to 60 grams of meat. That’s with a single ingredient. And when there is meat and cheese — it needs half and half of meat and cheese. Or more meat and a but less cheese. When cooked, there’s a 70 grams cheburek. We deep-fry them,” says Muhammad.

Food is important, but the owners say that they also wanted to create a place, where locals feel like they are in Crimea, and the Crimean Tatars feel home away from home. It’s a back-up before the original “Musafir” will welcome guests once again.

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