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Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019

College canteens are reinventing to create new USPs

In-house bakeries, neer dosa-stew and diet bhel are some of the new favourites on Mumbai campuses. Also served: chocolate cakes and free birthday softie ice-creams.

education Updated: Jan 11, 2019 21:01 IST
Krutika Behrawala
Krutika Behrawala
Hindustan Times
(HT Illustration: Shrikrishna Patkar)

Last month, Smit Mehta, an SYBMM student at Mithibai College, planned a celebration with the core committee of Kshitij to celebrate the success of the college festival. But he forgot to pick up the cake. So, he walked into neighbouring Usha Pravin Gandhi (UPG) College, where Café Cakes & Scoops is set up within the lobby.

Open only to college students and staff, the bakery stocks a variety of cakes and pastries, along with cheese burgers, pizzas and bread rolls. “The bakery has made our life much easier,” says Mehta. “It’s a convenient option for birthdays, since the cakes are fresh and reasonably priced.” All items are freshly baked in the campus of a nearby school, says a staffer.

Elsewhere, the menus of college canteens are expanding to include Belgian chocolate ice-cream, neer dosa with chicken stew, nachos and even diet bhel.

Calorie count

Churchgate’s Jai Hind College canteen offers pasta in Arrabiata or Alfredo sauce, and nachos with cheese sauce. There’s also something called Unjunk Bhel, priced at Rs 40. “It has boiled channa, roasted rice flakes and veggies like tomato and capsicum, and very little salt and masala,” says Muskan Arora, a third-year BMM student. “Usually, you won’t find a healthy option in a college canteen, so, I was thrilled when this dish was introduced.”

At Sophia College, students can now head to an ice-cream counter for flavours that range from Amaretto to passion fruit and blueberry. You also get a free softy on your birthday. “There are sprinkles and chocolate chips as toppings too,” says Alisha Poonawala, a student at the college.

What’s in a name?

Certain canteens have experimented with recipes to create dishes that have quickly become iconic. One such is the bread chilly (Rs 30) served at the canteen of Mulund College of Commerce. It features chunks of fried bread tossed in a Chinese-style chilli gravy.

Likewise, in the glass hotcase at the UPG café, you’ll find a cookie that’s actually a Britannia Marie coated with dark chocolate. Priced at Rs 10, it’s a best-seller, Mehta says. “I might have had 100 of them over the last two years.”

Staff connect

As with most eateries of note, losing a chef can be a turning point in these college canteens with a USP. At St Xavier’s College, when canteen manager Uday Shetty aka Anna retired last year, the iconic Egg Burma Toast went with him. This used to be a double omelette with bread stuffed with onion and tomato. “He was our saviour. I loved his rajma chawal,” says Raj Sharma, a second-year BMS student.

Anyway, life goes on and Sharma has found some new favourites — the neer dosa and chicken stew served at lunch, introduced by the new canteen manager, and the Dilli Chaat. “It’s Delhi-style bhalla papdi chaat and comes very close to the ones I’ve had at Chandni Chowk,” Sharma says.

Colleges are also investing time and effort to maintain their canteen standards. The Mulund College of Commerce has set up a committee that appoints the caterer.

“We select the caterer only after visiting their site, checking the quality standards and tasting the dishes,” says Anuradha Ganesh, a BCom professor and member of the committee.

“We ensure that the prices are subsidised,” she adds. “Both principal and the committee also conduct periodical supervision rounds to check if cleanliness and hygiene is being maintained not only where the food is being cooked but also where students are eating.”

First Published: Jan 11, 2019 21:01 IST

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