Wine & Dine
Textual content and Pictures by Mallika Chandra.
I wasn’t at all times this keenly observant of the meals being eaten at my dad and mom’ house from a cultural perspective. However that modified in early 2021 after I left Mumbai to dwell on my associate’s farm in Gujarat. This meant that every time I visited town, I discovered myself observing, with a singular insider-outsider view, the alterations in my household’s consuming habits whereas additionally being extra attuned to town’s shifting meals tradition at giant.
Most of our meals has at all times been cooked at house, and on weekends, we frequently ate out or ordered in. In the course of the pandemic-induced lockdown, our meals swung from easy lower fruit and one-pot dinners to extravagant feasts on particular events relying on our morale that day. As restrictions eased, we’d step out (masked) to take pleasure in artisanal espresso and baked items, with a purpose to help our favorite cafes and bakeries. The reminiscence of selecting up a alternative of brews from Kala Ghoda Cafe for our first socially distanced gathering with household associates after lockdown is as contemporary because the croissants purchased from Kitchen Backyard By Suzette to go together with it.
After an entire washout of a yr in 2020, many eating places discovered themselves overbooked when 2021 turned the yr of “revenge eating”. By 2022, eateries had been so full that I bear in mind struggling to make reservations even on weekdays. Meals author and buddy, Sneha Mehta, describes her reminiscence of that point: “Eating was not simply concerning the act…but additionally marked a broader societal craving that wanted fulfilling.” Whereas away on the farm, I’d sustain with new restaurant openings by way of Instagram and pattern a number of on every go to.
I quickly began noticing the variety of take-out containers in our fridge from numerous meals ordered in. It turned ritualistic for my sister to pop her head into my bed room and supply me first dibs of the night time’s leftovers, for lunch. Was I hungry sufficient to “polish off” the prawn dumplings with burnt garlic fried rice or would one-and-a-half slices of pepperoni pizza satiate me? Whereas I loved all of those, what struck me most concerning the meals was that it was of an unexpectedly prime quality, devoid of the greasy swimming pools of oil and thus minus the regrets that, till now, had typically adopted meals that had been ordered in. I began visiting house with an inventory of locations to order from, fairly than to eat out at.
By far, the factor that drew me in the direction of a majority of the cloud kitchens that I quickly grew to steadily order from is that they’re chef-driven. Not solely do they put a face to an in any other case obscure operation on their social media platforms — cloud kitchens had been initially referred to as darkish kitchens or ghost kitchens for a cause — however in addition they deliberately convey the sturdy set of values that they’re pushed by. Cooks Anushka Malkani and Nariman Abdygapparov of Masa Bakery in Juhu have actively shared their pleasure in sourcing natural components from inside India and creatively lowering meals wastage. Chef Rehan Mehta of the Colaba-based East seventh Pizza & Deli advocates for a greater work-life steadiness for his workers when itemizing job alternatives. In each instances, they provide cleaner variations of notoriously indulgent meals.
Chef Kartikeya Ratan and her associate Rishabh Doshi of Bandra-based Kiki & Pastor resisted the outdated behavior that institutions have of dousing dishes with yellow cheese sauce to make approach for a extra genuine tackle Mexican meals. Curiously, they prioritise freshness over authenticity any day. Chef Kunal Makhija of Mahim-based Arabisque values freshness too — the hummus is made in small batches all through the day and all his breads are freshly baked to order. Chef Divesh Aswani began Commis Station at Mahim with the thought of offering meals which might be sophisticated or time-consuming to make — like contemporary pasta or completely fermented kimchi — thus bringing a chef-level high quality and flavour into home-cooked meals.
Specializing in flavour and figuring out that individuals really feel good whereas consuming their meals is necessary to them. Ratan makes no claims about specialising in Mexican meals; she loves consuming it with associates and that’s the format she presents it in. Mehta named his firm Very Informal Meals in defiance of tremendous eating. Makhija is purposeful about sustaining an open channel of communication and setting expectations together with his prospects with a purpose to get constructive suggestions.
Maintaining with the demand for scrumptious meals that not solely offers a way of consolation but additionally satisfies the rising concern round consuming higher comes naturally to this new crop of chef-driven cloud kitchens. Every of them has discovered methods to give their clientele precisely what they need in a healthful method.
Verve speaks to those younger culinary skills about their enterprises.
On the hyperlinks beneath, learn how these chef-owners are altering the notion round cloud kitchens in Mumbai.