Till a while ago, when you hankered for a home-cooked meal, you’d have to wait to be invited to a friend’s home. Or wait till lunchtime to attack your colleague’s dabba.
For city folk who don’t have the patience to cook every day, can’t get the hang of regional cooking, or simply don’t match up to mummy’s skills, there are great new ways to sample ghar ka khana, at your own home and someone else’s. Hungry yet?
Try a traditional south Indian spread in a typical Mangalorean home or head to Kamshet for barbecued meals. Mealtango.in has a list of home cooks who host meals at their own homes.
Sign up, select a meal, book your seat and pay for it with your credit or debit card. The website allows home cooks to post, for free, the details of the meals they plan to host. Once you’ve paid, you will receive the address of the cook.
Founders Saket Khanna and Neeta Valecha verify cooks on the basis of hygiene, taste and quality of food, safety and if they’re welcoming. "We want the guest to experience traditional food," says Khanna. "It’s an authentic experience unlike a restaurant, where dishes are tweaked to suit the masses."
Try food from other regions
Couldn’t take a holiday last year? Do an India darshan from your kitchen. Shop for masalas on Eatelish.com, which sources masalas and recipes from home kitchens from different parts of the country.
"Home cooks have the resources but don’t know how to reach people outside their city," says Tanul Mishra, who founded the site with Shipra Bhansali. "We help a cook in Chennai sell her products to someone in Delhi without additional cost."
Eatelish’s range covers Malabar biryani masala (plus the recipe) and Bombay cookie mix (from old bakeries in Mumbai). Each comes in a box and the range changes with the seasons.
The Diwali box, for instance, had local farsan like shankarpalli, chivda and lehsuni sev last year. And in pickle-making season, their mango box came stocked with mango pickles from across India. You can buy a box online (though there’s no cash-on-delivery option) and the products sold are only those with a longer shelf life, so nothing goes bad.
Get a home-cooked tiffin
How: Foodees tiffin service
Foodees delivers lunch via Mumbai’s dabbawallahs. Log on to Foodees.in and enter your delivery details, pick the meal plan you prefer and pay by card. The menu changes weekly and goes up on the site the previous Saturday.
It covers a sandwich meal, Indian cuisine and classic multi-cuisine dishes among others. Or you could customise your meal by picking items from different plans. Foodees occasionally also calls in home cooks to cook for a day or a week, and the cooks can decide what to prepare (though their regular chef, Dinesh Poojari, who is the co-owner of Foodees with Adip Nayak, also keeps the regular menu available).
Try the service for a day or a week so you aren’t stuck if you don’t like the food. Dinner is delivered between Juhu circle and Oshiwara. Learn to cook, then eat
How: Silverspoon Gourmet
Parel’s Silverspoon Gourmet is a cooking studio which specialises in European food. Owners Joshua D’Souza and Neha Manekia rent out their studio for tastings and cooking sessions.
Home cooks can host a barbecue party or a cheese tasting event. You can sample many types of homemade cheese and D’Souza also does cooking demonstrations using the cheese as the main ingredient.
Although Silverspoon Gourmet doesn’t exactly give a home-cooked meal experience, you get a chance to try home-baked bread, handmade pasta and more. "We want home cooks to push the envelope," says Manekia.
The site displays their schedule of monthly events on Silverspoongourmet.in. You can book for a group and pay by card.
Order gourmet and cook it
How: Hautechef.in and iChef.in
Gourmet ingredients are expensive, especially if you never end up finishing an entire bottle of olive oil, fish sauce or ragu. And who wants to measure, chop and peel to eat the stuff you can order in a restaurant?
Hautechef.in and iChef.in both help you cook exotic meals at home simply: they’ll deliver carefully measured ingredients and a recipe for a single meal.
Go online, check out their menu for the week, choose a dish, order and follow the instructions. For example, if you’ve picked the chicken and scallion yakitori with Japanese fried rice (Rs 350 for two on Hautechef.in), your package will have little packets containing 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 cup rice, 5 cloves garlic, 2 chicken breasts and all the rest needed for you to whip up a storm.
iChef charges Rs 125 per meal portion per person. “We have around 50 customers a day,” says iChef founder Chirag Arya. “They have written in to us saying ‘Our kids love eating at home now’. That’s the best thing to hear.”
From HT Brunch, May 31
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