Rude food by Vir Sanghvi: From their homes to yours
When I last wrote about Goan sausages five years ago, they had only just become popular outside of Goa. But I have been addicted to them since the 1980s, when I would eat them by the beach in Goa. In those days, you had to be careful because the pork quality in Goa was not a sure thing and if you were lucky enough to find a supplier who was careful with his pork, you clung on to his address.
In 2015, my colleague Rachel Lopez gave me a breakdown of her family’s relationship with the sausage and I included it in the column. But even then, people were skeptical about a sausage that gave out red oil and often collapsed when you cooked it.
Well, I am pleased to say that India seems to have discovered Goan sausages in the five years that have elapsed. They turn up on the menu at Delhi’s trendy Jamun, are a favourite with Mumbai chefs and you can get them from delis all over India now.
I have written before about Crescentia Scolt Fernandes who makes artisanal Goan sausages in Delhi-NCR. I am a regular consumer of her sausages and masalas. And I have now found a reliable source of the sausages in Mumbai. The Sausage Story (their Facebook page is TheComunidadeKitchen) is run by former media professional Abhishai Fernandez and his mother from their home. (They are on Instagram too as thesausagestory__india.)
They have been in business for only two years and it is still very much a mom-and-son-operation but they courier their products all over India (which is how I got them in Delhi) and if your order is large enough (five kilos or more), they will customize the sausages for you.
Here is how that works: most Goan sausages have a high fat content because Goans like to see the red oil seep out while the sausages cook. I am quite happy with a 60% lean meat to 40% fat ratio but some people like their sausages less fatty. So, The Sausage Story’s formula is 70% lean meat and 30% fat, which seems more acceptable. Order enough and they will let you decide the fat content.
Outside of Mumbai, most people don’t even realize that an East Indian Christian community exists. It used to be a flourishing group whose members spoke their own kind of Marathi, were based around Bassein and often married Goan Catholics (with whom they are sometimes confused). East Indians usually have to explain to people that they don’t come from the East of India (they eat a lot of fish but they are not Bengalis) and their cuisine is not as well-known as it should be.
Carmen Miranda (named after the actress!) Nayar, who is half East Indian (her family moved to Mumbai’s Dadar) and half Goan Catholic, is married to a Malayali from the hotel business. This gives her a huge range to choose her recipes from. She does delivery (within Mumbai) of East Indian and Goan food (WhatsApp 9920137636). Her menu extends all the way from roast chicken to Kerala stew with appam. Her bestseller is the East Indian Lonvas, a stew made with mutton and the bottle masala which is a staple of East Indian cuisine. (On Instagram as enthucutlethomekitchen).
Till now, people who lived in Delhi had no access to Carmen’s food but Prasanjit Singh, whose Oriental food I praised some week ago, now flies Carmen’s masalas to Delhi every week in refrigerated containers and serves East Indian dishes at his Masala Shack delivery service (www.shackhood.com).
So far the best-seller is an amazing Mutton Curry made in a broadly East Indian style. Prasanjit wanted to call it Carmen Aunty’s Mutton Curry but Carmen refused to have the word ‘Aunty’ attached to her name. So it now carries the misleading name of Mrs Fernandes’ Mutton Curry.
All of the food at Masala Shack is created like this using recipes and ingredients from home chefs from all over India and the Kolkata food is also very good.
Vidur Kataria’s family ran an Oriental meal-in-a-bowl restaurant called Wok Me. Its USP was the quality of its sauces, so when the lockdown hit, Vidur improvised hastily and found a way of bottling those sauces under the brand Master Chow.
Though it is a small scale operation employing just eight people, and selling only through a website (www.masterchow.in), Vidur has expanded the range to include noodles, oils, black beam jam, Diwali gift hampers etc. As the cook-at-home segment grows, so does his business.
One of the few rewarding things about this terrible phase is how the delivery revolution has helped small home chef-operations. Nitika Kuthiala gave up her corporate job when she got pregnant. As she says, “I was trying to revive my career in the corporate sector post my pregnancy, but my heart was not in it…. During the Corona pandemic, I started doing home deliveries.”
I had her pahadi food at home and it was delicious. Light, all-vegetarian and full of intense flavours. Sadly, because it is just her doing the cooking, she only does food to order (usually during the weekends) based on a menu she posts on her Instagram page (the handle is pahadipattal). I recommend it without reservation.
Almost anybody who is involved with food in Delhi knows Osama Jalali, one of India’s most knowledgeable sources of food history. Now Jalali has started a delivery service called VillageDegh (www.villagedegh.com). His mission is to cook North Indian food as it was eaten a century ago. Not only does he use old recipes but he also refuses to use any modern methods. Every masala and chutney is ground by hand, the food is slow cooked and there are no gas stoves. It is clearly a labour of love and if you like authentic non-vegetarian North Indian food, you should give it a shot.
Ashish Kumar gave up his job to tie up with a friend in Chennai who was blast-freezing seafood from the Andamans and the Bay of Bengal. Ashish set up a website (www.o-fish.in), which gives people access to good quality frozen seafood. He does prawns, of course, but he has had the most success with pre-marinated seafood that is easy for the home cook to use.
There was some initial resistance in Delhi where people wanted ‘fresh’ sea-food. (How? There is a no sea near Delhi.) But his products are good and the business has taken off.
That, I guess, is the story of most small entrepreneurs during this pandemic. There will be resistance. But if your quality is good, your food will succeed.
The views expressed by the columnist are personal
From HT Brunch, November 1, 2020
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