Symphony of flavours from home kitchens | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

Symphony of flavours from home kitchens

Jun 09, 2024 06:27 PM IST

These Mumbaikars have mastered the secret sauce of artisanal takeaways and are doling out limited-edition gastronomic experiences

MUMBAI: One of the most exciting culinary trends in recent years has been the rise of artisanal food and beverages, driven by a growing consumer demand for authentic and unique dining experiences. Hand-crafted in small batches, these products use natural ingredients, traditional recipes and ethical production methods, harking back to pre-industrial roots of cooking.

Symphony of flavours from home kitchens
Symphony of flavours from home kitchens

“Artisanal means there is a human element which is bigger than the machine element in the whole process, by and large,” explains Vikram Mittal, the co-founder of Mumbai-based kombucha and fermented foods brand Mavi’s Pantry. “You’re also making sure that there are no preservatives or artificial additives, and that the ingredients are of high-quality.”

Now catch your favourite game on Crickit. Anytime Anywhere. Find out how

Whether it’s hand-rolled pasta, home-made ice-cream or traditional Assamese food from a local micro-kitchen, more and more Indians are willing to pay a premium for products that are hand-crafted with love and care, prioritising quality and taste over the efficiency of mass production. A growing number of home-chefs, bakers and brewers have popped up to meet the demand, a trend that only accelerated during the COVID-19 lockdown. Here are top entrepreneurs who have made a mark with their F&B start-ups in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.

A cup of sass

On a week-long visit to Pune, sisters Reeva and Ruchita Sitlani came across Kiosk Kaffee, a local cafe chain that sold great coffee at pocket-friendly prices. “You could spend 150 and get a great mocha shake,” says Ruchita. “But when we came back to Mumbai, we realised that you only have these huge giants selling you coffee at 300-350 a cup. There’s nothing that’s pocket friendly.”

Sensing an opportunity, the two serial entrepreneurs—this is their fourth business together—set up Liquid - Coffee But Sassy, delivering the beverages at affordable costs from their home kitchen in Matunga. Apart from the price point, their USP is their signature packaging, which pokes gentle fun at corporate life. “This meeting should have been an email” reads one bottle, while another says “no coffee no workee.”

“We’re just really sassy people and we wanted to bring that onto our labels,” says Reeva. “Every single person who has worked in a corporation has, at some point in time, wanted to speak their minds and say this stuff out loud. So we figured, why not use our bottles and let our coffee do the talking for you.”

Order: From webstore

Baked in batches

With a masters in economics and an MBA, Smita Shankar was working her way up the corporate ladder when a sense of disillusionment started to creep in. Feeling the need to work with her hands as well as her brain, she started looking for something else to do with her life.

Coming from a family of self-described foodies—both her parents are perfectionists in the kitchen—Smita found her calling in bread, or more specifically, sourdough. She studied the art of boulangerie at Le Cordon Bleu, in Paris. On returning to Mumbai, she worked at the Mag St. Bread Co. bakery in Colaba for a while before setting off on her own. She started The HappyGut Microbakery in 2021, running it out of her home in Powai.

“I wanted to approach food in the way that my mom looked at it, with reverence for its power to heal and keep us healthy,” she says. “Making sourdough is the oldest way of preparing bread, where you harness wild yeast and bacteria from the environment to make your starter, and use it to slowly ferment your bread. That fermentation brings a lot of health benefits.”

It also takes a lot of patience—it can take up to 36 hours—but for Shankar that is part of the charm. She bakes just six-to-eight loaves a day, with a rotating menu of whole-grain options such as Emmer bread and the newly introduced sprouted amaranth bread.

Order: At @the.happygut.microbakery on Instagram

Coastal curries

Ashwin Nair and Marian D’Costa were already looking for a way out of the 9-to-5 grind when the COVID-19 lockdown hit and forced their hand. They looked at several possibilities—antiques, interior design—before deciding to start their own home kitchen, dishing out authentic delicacies from their home states of Goa and Kerala. “I said we both make great food, so why not try to promote regional cuisine from our motherland,” says D’Costa.

The Bandra couple started Aiyo Patrao in the middle of the lockdown, delivering home-cooked Erachi Ularthiyathu, mutton Xacuti and prawn recheado that is, as they like to put it, grandma approved. “We want to give you the food that we’ve grown up on, which evokes a sense of nostalgia and pride,” says D’Costa. “We like to honour tradition, honour the recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation, but also tweak them along the way where it makes sense.”

That approach has paid off. The couple have moved operations from their home to a properly equipped cloud kitchen to cater to their growing clientele, while maintaining the home-cooked made-to-order approach that their customers love.

Pre-book: On +91 84509 12371

Ted talks

Rohan Agnani is a big fan of Ted Lasso, the Apple TV+ comedy about an American coaching an English football team. Such a big fan, in fact, that the Bandra baker marked the end of the show by whipping up The Lasso Way, a shortbread biscuit that is inspired by the shortbread that Lasso uses on the show to win over his co-workers. Made with flour, salt, butter, powdered sugar and just a hint of Madagascar vanilla, The Lasso Way is one of the signature desserts you can buy from Chubby Baker & Co.

Agnani picked up baking as a seven-year-old, and kept up with his passion as he grew older, baking on the side while he worked in the fashion industry. Then, in 2022, he got picked as one of the contestants on season 7 of MasterChef India. That appearance gave him the motivation to go full-time.

“My vision for the bakery has always been to provide amazing desserts while maintaining the ethos and quality standards of a home bakery,” says Agnani. “I bake everything from scratch, and don’t use any pre-mixes or any additives in my products.”

Aside from the Lasso Way, Agnani recommends you try out his ultimate chocolate cake, and his lemon-glazed mini loaf.

Order: On 919167072309

On a roll

A trip to Italy in 2018 changed Apeksha Agarwal’s life. The freelance producer spent six weeks in the country, staying with her friend’s parents and grandparents. The passion that Italians had for their food resonated strongly with Apeksha, making her look at food in a different way. She picked up a number of recipes from her friend’s family and local chefs, and when she came home, she started hand-rolling authentic pasta for herself and her family.

“My first big order was to make fresh ravioli for a friend’s brunch for 50-60 people,” she remembers. “So I set up a foldable wooden pasta table in my bedroom, and sat down and made a hundred pieces of ravioli.”

Five years later, her Bandra pastificio Cacio e Pepe makes fresh hand-made pasta, focaccia, sauces, cantuccini and amaretti five days a week, delivering between 60 to 100 orders all over the city. There’s also a small pan-India store that sells confectionery and dried pasta. Over time, Agarwal hopes to introduce more accessible products—such as a frozen pasta line—that can be sold in stores and supermarkets. But she’s sure that the core of the business will always be the small-batch artisanal pasta, made with fresh ingredients and a lot of care.

Pre-order: At

Scoops of joy

During the COVID-19 lockdown, advertising professional Farah Ladhabhoy started making care packages for her friends and colleagues, many of whom were stuck alone at home. She started by sending them cakes over WeFast, before trying her hand at home-made ice-cream. Her friends enjoyed the ice-cream so much that they urged her to turn her hobby into a business.

“They literally forced me to do this,” she says. “I was very hesitant in the beginning, because I actually love my job as a writer and wanted to go back to it. But my friends pushed me to give it a shot, and now I enjoy splitting my time between the two. Making ice-cream gives me a lot of space to play.”

Ladhabhoy loves experimenting with different ingredients and flavours, constantly trying out new combinations. Her most recent experiment is an ice cream made with feta cheese (though that one might not make it to The Burrow’s menu). Other offerings include lemon crumble, brown butter biscuit and chocolate brownie flavours. Apart from ice cream, The Burrow, in Peddar Road, also offers a series of butters—saffron, caramelised onion, black olive—as well as strawberry jam.

Follow: on Instagram to order

A silent meal

Amrita Kaur first burst onto the Mumbai food scene in 2014 as the creator of ‘OMG bacon jam’, perhaps the first bacon jam product in the city. The RJ-turned-food-blogger would make the jam over the weekend, and sell it online all over the city. Then in 2016, her life changed when she gave up meat. Soon after, she picked up an interest in Ayurveda, eventually pivoting to workshops and pop-ups that aimed to raise awareness about how we could incorporate the principles of Ayurveda into our daily culinary lives.

“All of this has helped me understand that our relationship with nourishment, with food, is crucial to our lives,” she says. “So my only purpose now is to help people connect with our food deeply.”

Amrita holds regular cooking workshops and culinary experiences at Amrit Home Kitchen— her experimental kitchen space in Bandra—where she explores the joys and benefits of intuitive cooking, working with seasonal and local ingredients, experimenting with slow-cooking techniques and fermentation. What really caught our attention is Ann Mute Yourself, where she invites up to six people to the kitchen for a wholesome breakfast meal, eaten in total silence.

“The whole idea is that the body is a temple, and you [should] look at this meal like you’re literally offering prayer and food to your body,” she says.

Follow: @amritaoflife to learn about Ann Mute Yourself on Sundays.

Tribal rights

If you’re craving a taste of authentic Assamese tribal food, there is no better option in Mumbai than Gitika’s Pakghor, a cloud kitchen run by marketer-turned-chef Gitika Saikia. She started in 2014 with sit-down pop-ups at home, restaurants and five-star hotels—including one in the US—before switching to home delivering food during COVID-19.

“I do special festival menus and two delivery menus every month, and all these menus are actually seasonal,” she says. “I use authentic ingredients that are all flown down from Assam.”

Recent menus include dishes made by the Chakma people, an ethnic group that is spread across Assam, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Bangladesh and Western Myanmar. Another, the Ali Aye Ligang menu, consisted of food made by the Mishing tribe to celebrate an annual spring festival. For Saikia, the food she makes is an opportunity to represent and evangelise the various cuisines of the North East, and to spark conversations about the rich cultural history embedded in each of these meals. That’s why she still continues to do sit-down pop-ups, apart from lecturing at various culinary institutes across the country.

“I love sit-down pop-ups because you get to interact with your clients and have these discussions,” she says. “I can talk about the ingredients, where they come from, and why the community eats certain foods in certain seasons. And how all these tribes actually have deep connections with their neighbouring countries, which you can see in the herbs we use in our food.”

Follow: @gitikaspakghor on Instagram and order via DMs.

An exclusive salon

Renjie Wong moved to Mumbai from San Francisco in 2022, for his job with Singapore’s Tourism Board. To make new friends in a new city, he re-started a tradition that he first picked up while living in San Francisco—a private supper club called Salon.

“During COVID-19, I realised that most of the people I was hanging out with were friends I met in college,” he says. “But a city like San Francisco is dynamic -- a vibrant place where people from all over the world come to work, live and play. So I started Salon, in San Francisco, as a way to meet different people from outside my social circle. The general idea is that I sit people down and put food on the table for them, and then everything else is fair game.”

Every so often, Wong brings a select group of people together and cooks them a meal that is “some version of food from home for me.” There’s plenty of Singaporean food, but also other cuisines that Wong loves, all put together in fun and exciting ways. The format of the club changes depending on the partners he’s collaborating with, the most recent being a weekend pop-up at Masque. For one Salon, he exhibited his own photography. For another, he flew down one of his favourite mixologists from Singapore. The only constant is great food, stimulating conversation, and a chance to make some amazing new friends.

Follow: @Saloncolaba on Instagram to know about the next meet and how to join. Proceeds from the meal are donated to a local NGO.

Gut health

As an engineer in the merchant navy, Vikram Mittal loved travelling the world and trying out different foods and drinks. In 2017, while in the US, he discovered the joys of kombucha, the fermented black tea drink thought to have originated in China. When he moved to Mumbai in 2018, he brought along some kombucha culture—a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast—so that he and his wife Meenakshi Bhanj Deo could make their own. They passed around the surplus to friends and family, received enough positive feedback and decided to put up a stall at a farmer’s market in Powai and see if they could sell some.

“We figured it’s an interesting way to meet interesting people and learn something new about the city,” says Mittal. “So we recycled 43 old beer bottles, sanitised them, and got a capping machine. We made 2-3 flavours and we sold out everything we had.”

They spent the next year or so driving to two-or-three farmer’s markets every weekend, their car filled with bottles of artisanally brewed kombucha. By April 2019, their products were also stocked in about 15 retail stores across the city. Mavi’s Pantry also began innovating with Indian flavours, introducing kokum and ginger-and-honey flavours. Today, the company produces a range of fermented products, including ginger ale, sauerkraut, water kefir, tepache and kimchi. All made with organic ingredients, and free of artificial additives.

Shop at:

Get World Cup ready with Crickit! From live scores to match stats, catch all the action here. Explore now!

Stay updated with all the Breaking News and Latest News from Mumbai. Click here for comprehensive coverage of top Cities including Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, and more across India along with Stay informed on the latest happenings in World News.
Story Saved
Live Score
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, June 16, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On