Thursday, May 6

Ladled out of homes, with love & care in Calcutta

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A delivery executive rings the bell at a 36th-floor apartment of a highrise off the EM Bypass. A lady answers the door, not to collect a meal she has ordered but to hand over a plate of her signature Chitol Maachher Muittha she has just whipped up for a customer.

Chaitali Sarkar, 52, is among 65 home chefs who have signed up with a food delivery app called Nanighar.

A brainchild of entrepreneur Debjani Mookherjee, the app completed a month of serving home-cooked food to the city on Wednesday.

Aiming to empower homemakers with a penchant for cooking, Nanighar is a result of Mookherjee’s personal experiences. “Often, I would not feel like cooking after a hard day at work. But I didn’t want to compromise on my family’s health by ordering out. So I thought of getting moms and dads under one platform,” she said.

Cooking has always been Sarkar’s passion and she believes in doing everything — from driving to the nearest department store in her blue-grey Corolla Altis to hand-picking ingredients and prepping for her orders.

The resident of Urbana in Anandapur also ensures the food from Chaitali’s Kitchen is healthy, using minimal oil and making up for it with freshly ground spices and herbs. “I let my spices do the magic,” smiled Sarkar.

Mamata Basu, 65, of Rashbehari Avenue is happy to indulge the Bengali sweet tooth with her pithe, puli, and payesh. A grandmother to a three-year-old, “Basu Dida” also makes a mean mutton curry. “I love cooking but had never thought of putting it to use like this,” she said.

Most Nanighar chefs are home cooks, who have only served family and friends. The items are priced below Rs 400, breakfast being available for Rs 40 and above.

Nupur Ganguly, 58, of Bagha Jatin was busy making taler bora and taal kheer on Janmashtami, not only for her family but customers, too. She had as many as 20 orders for the two festival specials.

“I used to play volleyball before marriage and hardly ever cooked but my husband’s family turned out to be foodies. They taught me to make the perfect rosogollas. My husband would often invite home 18 to 20 people for a meal. That’s how I got the confidence to cook for so many people,” Ganguly said.

The app gets anything between five and 15 orders a day, around 30 per cent of them from repeat customers, Mookherjee said. Orders have to be placed 10 to 24 hours in advance and customers get to choose a delivery time.

Six delivery executives take the food to customers from Dum Dum to Narendrapur and Behala to central Calcutta. “We are yet to go to Howrah. We will go further north from next month,” Mookherjee said.

Nandini Nandy, 46, loves experimenting and her recipe for Chicken Vindaloo and Pork Jhalfrezi keep changing. “I am married to an ex-armyman. I have travelled all over the country and am used to throwing parties. My dishes never taste the same as I am always tweaking them,” she said.

Biryani and chaap made by Sucheta Dutta of Tollygunge were a big hit at a Rakhi party. “I cook extra so that my daughter gets to eat and review it,” she shared.

Shukla Roy, 53, of Dum Dum, joined Nanighar at her son-in-law’s initiative. “I was lonely after my daughter got married. Now I am happy to have a social circle of my own,” she said.

From traditional Bengali to Goan, Parsi, Punjabi, South Indian and even continental dishes, the chefs on Nanighar offer a wide variety of delicacies.

Anamika Mukherjee of Kalighat had never tasted Dhansak before she ordered it from Jumjo G run by Gina Shrestha. “All my orders have been from non-Parsis,” said Shreshta, who serves up authentic Parsi specialities.

Also on Nanighar are two male chefs — Partha Bhattacharya, 52, and Supriyo Jana, 35.

“I travel around the world. I like to cook traditional dishes like illish maachh bhape the elaborate way and plan to attempt a few fusions too,” said Jana, a businessman.


Source: The Telegraph

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