Sunday, March 26

Online food delivery replaces kitchen swag in locked-down Kolkata

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We’ve entered Day 14 of the 21-day lockdown and the initial craze of getting innovative in the kitchen with subsequent food posts on social media seems to be fizzling out. With hectic work-from-home schedules, domestic help out of bounds and market trips to buy essential items becoming risky, cooking at home is no longer a feasible option for many. Therefore, many families are ordering in from the limited eateries that are still operational. Not only are these places claiming to maintain strict hygiene protocols, they are even practising social distancing by introducing contactless deliveries.

From ghar ka khana-like thalis to Chinese, Bengali and even biryani, these eateries are flooded with orders and there is no sign of lull in their business. “Our regular clientele includes bachelors and those staying in PGs. But most of them have returned home due to the pandemic. Now, it’s the family crowd or senior citizens who are ordering more. While the elderly prefer veg thalis, young couples with kids are choosing egg, chicken, mutton or fish thalis,” said Bithika Niyogi, owner of Dubbawala.

Rongon Neogi from Continental Catering Service said hordes of people started ordering lunch and dinner from mid-March. “Besides a barrage of home-delivery orders, we are even getting calls from abroad enquiring about our services for their parents staying alone in Kolkata,” he said.

Most people are now emphasising on the nutritional aspect more than taste and variety while ordering food online. They are opting for simple vegetarian or non-veg thalis. Debjit Majumdar of Hindusthan Cuisine, a home delivery service available in Tollygunge, New Alipore and Behala, said, “There is a high demand for homestyle food now. Steamed rice, moong or masoor dal, aloo chokha, fish, egg or chicken curries are quite in demand. We are trying to serve basic food at the moment, not anything fancy. We are taking orders as per our capacity since we cannot keep more than four to five staff because of social distancing norms. We are stressing on no-contact deliveries.”

There are many who are bored of eating home-cooked meals and looking to spice up their locked-down days with some fancy Chinese dishes and biryani. “Chinese food is light on the tummy and biryani is an all-time favourite with Bengalis. After resuming our delivery services about a week back, I’ve noticed a sharp rise in orders for Chinese dishes, even more than biryani,” said Debaditya Chaudhury, managing director of Chowman, Oudh 1590 and Chapter 2, adding that all his cooks are taking care of hygiene by changing their clothes and washing hands before entering the kitchens. “Wearing gloves and masks for chefs and delivery boys is a must,” he added.

That’s not all. South Indian cuisine too seems to be a big hit with Kolkatans during lockdown. Piyush Menon, owner and head chef of The Coastal Macha, said, “No matter what, foodies will always find a way to indulge in food for the soul. Our mutton ghee roast, chicken or mutton stew, appam and Hyderabadi biryani are selling like hot cakes.”

Star hotels curate lockdown menus

Star hotels are taking home delivery orders too. Kumar Shobhan, GM, Hyatt Regency Kolkata, said, “A delicious meal during lockdown can instantly lift your spirits. Our regulars are requesting for their favourite delicacies to be delivered and we’re happy to oblige them with some of our signature dishes as well as comfort food.”

The Park Hotel has curated a special menu that includes snacks, Chinese, pizza, steaks, rolls, wraps and biryani. Pramode Bhandari, their area general manager, said, “During these difficult times, we are trying to deliver happiness to the doorsteps of Kolkatans. Our online food delivery has helped in providing choice and convenience, allowing guests to order freshly cooked hygienic food from a wide array of options with a single tap on their mobile phone. The initiative has been very well received, and we are getting significant amount of orders every day.” Even JW Marriott Kolkata has started their online food delivery services.

Source: Times of India

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