Hemant Oberoi turns dabbawala | india | Hindustan Times
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Hemant Oberoi turns dabbawala

Turns out even the elite are hooked on to the humble dabba (tiffin). They’ve been keenly visiting Masala Kraft, the Indian restaurant at the Taj Mahal Palace, where chef Hemant Oberoi has just added the locally renowned service to his menu.

india Updated: Jun 30, 2012 15:25 IST
Shweta Mehta

Turns out even the elite are hooked on to the humble dabba (tiffin). They’ve been keenly visiting Masala Kraft, the Indian restaurant at the Taj Mahal Palace, where chef Hemant Oberoi has just added the locally renowned service to his menu.

The home-style meals, available in vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, have become such a hit that some patrons have even requested to take the dabba home after finishing their portion.

Ask Oberoi what made him pick this working-class staple for his five-star menu and he says, “I recalled our festival at Selfridges in London way back in 2002, where we took 3,000 authentic dabbas, which were sold-out in no time. This made me want to bring it into a restaurant where people can actually come and taste a typical Mumbai tiffin.”

Careful detailing has gone into this latest addition to the menu. “We went through 20 prototypes before selecting the right tiffin. It opens into four bowls of different dishes, with breads and dry snacks served separately,” says the chef. “The menu will change every day. The vegetarian tiffins comprise mostly of Maharashtrian and Gujarati dishes, while non-vegetarians can pick from Bohri, Parsi and Goan food.”

A similar service is available not far from Oberoi’s restaurant, at Vivanta by Taj, Cuffe Parade, albeit only for hotel guests. These dabbas, fetaure many cuisines and are targeted at giving foreigners a quintessential Indian experience.

Though Oberoi confesses that he didn’t consult dabbawalas while creating the menu, he admits that the style of cooking is the same — oil-free, not very spicy. “You won’t find oil on your plate. Use of butter and cream is minimum. We’ve used the best oils and masalas. The vegetables are fresh, and selected depending on what’s in season,” he says.