Home deliveries and takeaways have become so popular that several shows on OTT platforms have the home chef as their central character. Our busy lives are enveloped in the aroma of home-cooked meals delivered from someone’s kitchen, meal subscription plans, and cloud kitchens. People have turned away from the traditional restaurant route to forge their own culinary paths, and many of them are women who provide delicious khana with the assurance that their food has been prepared in hygienic kitchens and delivered according to safety instructions. As an alternative source of income, many people are also cooking from home and serving customers digitally. In this series, we compile a list of home chefs in India who are flying under the radar, cooking authentic and memorable meals. You can check out the first part of the series that looked at Chennai and Bengaluru here.
In the second part, we look at Mumbai.
Sangeeta Shashital, red orange
Red Orange represents Sangeeta Shashital’s motto, “Adding color to people’s lives”. She began pursuing her baking journey in 2002 after the convection oven made its first appearance in her home. Already win hearts with her nankhatais which she made for school tiffins, Sangeeta began to venture into a range of other dishes. Over the next few years, steady orders began to come in as more and more people began to recognize his house brand through word of mouth. As the children grew, they introduced her to the possibilities of social media and promotions. With the help of her daughter Tanushree, who had by then perfected the art of icing on YouTube, Sangeeta simultaneously ran her clothing and baking business. During the lockdown, Red Orange’s monthly schedule was packed with big orders for its baked goods, including popular brownies, nut and vegan cakes and Nutella-based desserts. From Thane to South Mumbai, everyone wanted to sample their homemade wares.
Ramanuj Dutta and Saurabh Jitranjan, Petuk er Pantry
When the pandemic blues started making them restless, cinematographer and home chef Ramanuj Dutta and Saurabh Jitranjan, a shopkeeper and gardener, decided to pursue their passion project, Petuk er Pantry. “I’ve been cooking all my life,” says Dutta who is inspired by Bengali dishes cooked by her mother and grandmother at home. Following in their culinary footsteps, the duo began with a weekly three-course introductory Bengali menu. While Saurabh designs the menu and handles everything from operations to customer services to marketing, Ramanuj curates and prepares a range of authentic Bengali dishes in which he has specialized (after traveling and talking to chefs around the West Bengal and Bangladesh). “You have to appreciate Bengali food in its entirety,” says Dutta, “and not just limit it to West Bengal.” Famous for his Mutton Kala Bhuna, a 300-year-old Persian dish from Bangladesh, Dutta is driven to serve soulful and authentic cuisine to his customers who live in a fast-paced city like Mumbai. To ensure their customers get the very best, all ingredients are sourced from local farmers and traders, and attempts are made to exclude plastic from their packaging.
Aditi Goel, Pie & Co
Growing up as that skinny kid who loved to eat and feed people, it wasn’t hard for Chef Aditi to find her passion for cooking after going to culinary school in Australia at the age of 19 and having learned the art of making pies from a home. brand. Knowing that pies are not a familiar dish on Indian dining tables, she decided to change the scene with her small kitchen in Mumbai, now trading as Pie & Co. Sharing the workload is her team of two women who start their day at 8:30. Bake a storm of pies – savory pies, mac and cheese pies, butter chicken pies, pizza pies and more – using recipes that have been baked by Aditi herself. “My sanity is in the kitchen,” says Aditi, who made the long-awaited move from her tiny kitchen to a remodeled studio in a bid to organically grow her brand from the ground up. Considering that Indians would not relate to the concept of international pies, she decided to introduce Indian variations of pies like Palak Paneer Pie, Veg Korma Pie and Mutton Kheema Pie. However, to his surprise, people were excited to try his famous Mac n Cheese and Pizza Pies as well. Pie & Co quickly expanded its services on platforms such as Zomato and Swiggy and reached its 106th order in record time. Speaking about the environment in their new kitchen, Aditi says, “We make sure we don’t pick up bad energy in the kitchen and give ourselves the freedom to take a day off or cancel orders if we feel overwhelmed. .”
Madhumita Pyne, insomniac cook
“I love to cook,” says Madhumita Pyne, filmmaker and home chef from Mumbai, “It combines both art and science.” From making bottled jams five years ago to cooking authentic Bengali dishes for events and festivals in Mumbai, she found that Maximum City lacked the healthy variety that her hometown of Kolkata has. to offer. With her business, Insomniac Cook, she aims to recreate nostalgic dishes from Kolkata using recipes she has prepared with the help of her family, loved ones and the streets of her hometown. Looking back on a difficult year, Madhumita is proud of all the accomplishments she has added to her roster as a home chef. Going from an occasional menu to a daily menu, not repeating any dishes, receiving 40% new customers during confinement and organizing his first wedding catering service – it has been a learning experience. As Bong, she recognizes and celebrates the simplicity of Bengali cuisine. Her Mutton Lonka Kancha and her fish dishes (which she usually cooks with green chilies and minimal spices) have won her many fans. Talking about the authenticity of Bengali cuisine, she says, “People should try Bengali vegetarian dishes prepared from a wide range of seasonal produce and vegetables.”