Khana Khazana means “food treasure” in Hindi. It’s also the name of a weekly international lunch at Michigan Technological University, and judging by the long lines every Friday, it has become a true treasure for the students, faculty and staff at Michigan Tech.
Khana Khazana is cooked and served by international students. A different country’s cuisine is featured each week. Thanks to Khana Khazana, the campus and community in this rural town on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan can enjoy food from around the world.
The international lunch began as a brainstorm of an Indian student. Freshly arrived to study engineering technology at Michigan Tech, Sahil Thakkar was struck by the lack of ethnic food choices in the town of Houghton. Always one to act on his creative ideas, Thakkar approached Matthew Lean, associate director of dining services at the university, and Eric Karvonen, executive chef, with a proposal: “You let us use your kitchen and give us a serving space in the Food Court, and international students will cook and serve a special lunch each week.”
Dining Services agreed to give it a try. Thakkar recruited students from India, China, Korea, Thailand and several other countries, and Khana Khazana was born. It takes a lot of work on the part of the international students who run the project, cook and serve, but four years later, Khana Khazana has become a Friday lunch tradition at Michigan Tech.
Four times when disaster struck around the world, Khana Khazana stepped up and donated the proceeds of their international lunch to benefit the victims. They helped after the Haitian earthquake and the flood in Pakistan in 2010, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and a drought and famine in Africa in 2011.
Khana Khazana has also started cooking for the annual Parade of Nations multicultural festival in Houghton.
“I am so proud of my fellow international students,” says Thakkar, now in training to be a helicopter repairman with the US Army. “They took an idea and made it a reality.”
Watch international students make food for Khana Khazana featuring food from Cameroon
See more photos of international students cooking for Khana Khazana on Instagram by following International Student Voice Magazine @ISVMagazine
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