Wine & Dine
Text and Photography by Mallika Chandra.
I wasn’t at all times this keenly observant of the meals being eaten at my dad and mom’ dwelling from a cultural perspective. But that modified in early 2021 once I left Mumbai to stay on my accomplice’s farm in Gujarat. This meant that every time I visited town, I discovered myself observing, with a novel 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 dwelling, and on weekends, we regularly ate out or ordered in. During the pandemic-induced lockdown, our meals swung from easy minimize 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 the intention to help our favorite cafes and bakeries. The reminiscence of choosing up a selection of brews from Kala Ghoda Cafe for our first socially distanced gathering with household pals after lockdown is as contemporary because the croissants purchased from Kitchen Garden By Suzette to go together with it.
After an entire washout of a 12 months in 2020, many eating places discovered themselves overbooked when 2021 turned the 12 months of “revenge dining”. By 2022, eateries had been so full that I bear in mind struggling to make reservations even on weekdays. Food author and pal, Sneha Mehta, describes her reminiscence of that point: “Dining was not just about the act…but also marked a broader societal craving that needed fulfilling.” While away on the farm, I’d sustain with new restaurant openings through Instagram and pattern a couple of on every go to.
I quickly began noticing the range of take-out containers in our fridge from varied meals ordered in. It turned ritualistic for my sister to pop her head into my bed room and supply me first dibs of the evening’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? While I loved all of these, what struck me most in regards to the meals was that it was of an unexpectedly top quality, devoid of the greasy swimming pools of oil and thus minus the regrets that, till now, had usually adopted meals that had been ordered in. I began visiting dwelling with a listing of locations to order from, relatively 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 ceaselessly 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 known as darkish kitchens or ghost kitchens for a cause — however in addition they deliberately convey the robust set of values that they’re pushed by. Chefs Anushka Malkani and Nariman Abdygapparov of Masa Bakery in Juhu have actively shared their satisfaction in sourcing natural elements 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 circumstances, they provide cleaner variations of notoriously indulgent meals.
Chef Kartikeya Ratan and her accomplice Rishabh Doshi of Bandra-based Kiki & Pastor resisted the outdated behavior that institutions have of dousing dishes with yellow cheese sauce to make method for a extra genuine tackle Mexican meals. Interestingly, 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 difficult 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.
Focusing on flavour and understanding that folks really feel good whereas consuming their meals is vital to them. Ratan makes no claims about specialising in Mexican meals; she loves consuming it with pals and that is the format she presents it in. Mehta named his firm Very Casual Foods in defiance of advantageous eating. Makhija is purposeful about sustaining an open channel of communication and setting expectations along with his clients with the intention to get constructive suggestions.
Keeping up with the demand for scrumptious meals that not solely gives a way of consolation but additionally satisfies the rising concern round consuming higher comes naturally to this new crop of chef-driven cloud kitchens. Each of them has discovered the best way to give their clientele precisely what they need in a healthful method.
Verve speaks to those young culinary skills about their enterprises.
At the hyperlinks beneath, learn how these chef-owners are altering the notion round cloud kitchens in Mumbai.