The smells of Boolan beckon at Galle Face

Smriti Daniel stops by for a chat with an enterprising businessman known more by the name of his well known fast food outlet than his own, Mohammed Naushad

The little red tent on Galle Face looks out over the ocean. The scent of grilling meat lures customers in to where a few simple plastic chairs and tables are arranged. Right there, you’ll find the man most people know only as Boolan. His real name is Mohammed Naushad (after years of visiting his Boolan Fast Foods outlet, people tend to confuse the two, but he doesn’t seem to mind). The sun sets over the distant horizon but along the length of Galle Face, the crowds still surge. Looking around his full tables, Mr. Naushad tells us the customers come in only on weekends. Business, he says, has never been this good.

We had heard descriptions of the man well before we met him – in particular of the heavy gold chains, bracelets and rings he used to wear. Today he has what appears to be a silver plated chain forged of heavy links around his neck, a bracelet of the same on one wrist and heavy rings on each finger. Though he hasn’t reduced their number, the change in the metal is telling – Mr. Naushad says the gold jewellery was reflective of a time when he was prosperous, when he had two cars and a thriving business in Slave Island.

Boolan was famous then for the sheer range of meats it sold, grilled and fried and served sizzling. These were recipes he had first learnt as a young boy, working with his mother as she did brisk business selling Malay specialities like pittu and baabath. But his signature dish, the rampe chicken, he learnt from an Indian friend over the course of a short stay in Saudi Arabia. The chicken is seasoned, wrapped in rampe leaves and slipped into a wok of hot oil. With the oil spitting violently, he says it’s a demanding dish (priced at Rs. 150) to make and it’s why he only serves it on weekends.

Other weekend specialities include octopus served anyway you like it. The curd and egg based palandi curry is a favourite, but since the meat has to sometimes be sourced from as far away as Kalpitiya, this one costs more – Rs.500. Both dishes sell well, says Mr. Naushad assuring us that his helpings are generous.

He continues to pride himself on his Malay specialities – the Nasi Gorang (Rs. 400) in particular is ever popular. Having tasted a dish he likes and wants to serve his customers, Mr. Naushad says he never needs a recipe – he’s able to recreate it but always serves it with his own twist.

For many years he did this from his shop opposite the Nippon Hotel, but a bomb planted at the hotel to target an army bus in 2008 killed his paternal uncle and destroyed his shop. When Kumaranratnam Road became one way, it dealt another significant blow to his business. Fortunately, the move to Galle Face has been a successful one.


Here, he says he feels secure and is assured of customers.
The only problem is when it rains. His son, Mohammed Asraf, agrees. Asraf is one of four children that Mr. Naushad has raised with his wife of 26 years, Ramjan Bibi. On his right hand, he wears a heavy silver ring with an ‘R’ carved into it in honour of her. He’s so proud that he pulls out his phone to show us pictures of her at home and of his young grandchild.

Among these is a surprise – there is Mr. Naushad dressed like a biker posing with two other men. This it turns out is his alternate, not so secret career. Though short, he can be intimidating and this had been leveraged to full effect over a range of advertisements. (You may have seen him selling Lifebuoy, Elephant House and Munchee Biscuits.) He’s played a sumo wrestler and an iron man, he tells us, adding that he even had a role in the film Attmavarsha.

As it grows dark, Mr. Naushad tells us other stories, of catering for political big wigs and dodging hand grenades. As the stall continues to do brisk business, it’s clear he’s in his element – and it helps that all the familiar faces from the old days have begun to pop up. “The same people who used to go there (Kumaranratnam Road) now come here,” he says, pleased.

Top to the page  |  E-mail  |  views[1]
SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Other Magazine Articles
The smells of Boolan beckon at Galle Face
Pearl of the Persian Gulf
A day out with the beauties
Rocking start to Sri Lanka’s first Rhythm World Dancesport Championship
Furry strays find 2-legged friends on Facebook
magazine -- Cover of the week
Mirror Magazine Articles
Dealing with ragging
All you need is Love
Manning up to street harassment
Dressing up your walls
Mark on the world
TV Times Articles
‘Paradise Kandy’: haven in the hills
Soul funk sunday- park jams special
Surendra sings Jothipala
Sanjeewa flies high with ‘Flying Fish’
Jackie gets hot with ‘Murder 2’


Reproduction of articles permitted when used without any alterations to contents and a link to the source page.
© Copyright 1996 - 2011 | Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka. All Rights Reserved | Site best viewed in IE ver 8.0 @ 1024 x 768 resolution.