Even as several restaurants across Mumbai struggle to thrive within the limitations of the COVID-19 lockdown and its regulations, the bright spot in the culinary world has been the rise of home cooks. Despite logistical challenges, these kitchen stars have been dishing out home cooked meals to Mumbaikars seeking for a respite from the kitchen or craving ghar ka khana.
While a few of these small-time entrepreneurs prefer offering an exhaustive menu to their customers, others are keeping it exclusive with limited dishes from a cuisine or course they specialise in. Here, you will find a list of home chefs who are cooking up a storm as the pandemic continues to halt eating out.
1. Peppercorns by Abhinanda Bhattacharya
Started a decade ago, Abhinanda Bhattacharya’s home cooking venture began by cooking for a couple of friends’ house parties and, with time, turned into a full-fledged business catering for corporate events and conducting interactive cooking workshops for kids and adults. Bhattacharya cooks Bengali, Burmese, Continental, Mexican and south Indian cuisines, and she has a special corner in her heart for creating original recipes. Amid the lockdown, her focus has largely been delivery menu. Elaborating on the offerings she says, “Of late, people have been looking for regional Indian dishes. Initially [beginning of the lockdown], I served full meals daily since people weren’t comfortable calling in househelps. But now, with the lockdown restrictions eased, I only serve particular dishes.”
Popular dishes: Malvani crabs and burgers.
How to order: Call 9619917803, email at email@example.com or visit peppercorns.in
2. Shagufta’s Kitchen
For biryani and non-vegetarian curry lovers in and around Chembur, Shagufta Khan, a Konkani Muslim from the city, is no stranger. The mother of three took her passion for food to the next level in 2017 and started Shagufta’s Kitchen with the help of her daughters. “We started by participating in food festivals in and around Chembur. The overwhelming response motivated us to operate a delivery kitchen from home during festivals,” Rimsha, her daughter tells us. Khan’s venture used to cater for parties and get-togethers only, with 1 kg as the minimum order, but during the lockdown they reduced the quantity to ½ a kg (which serves four people) and opted for a weekly menu. Chicken and mutton biryanis, tikkas and gravy dishes and a dessert constitute their weekly menu.
Popular dishes: Mutton biryani and paya curry.
How to order: Call 9820252744
3. The Breakfast Club, Amboli
The brainchild of three 50+ year old friends Milagrine Fernandes, Gretta D'almeida and Gracy Dias, The Breakfast Club Amboli was started in June 2020. It was born out of the desire to serve affordable, authentic Mangalorean and Goan dishes. Serving all days, except Monday, their menu changes daily depending on the availability of ingredients. On offer are a wide range of dishes: sweet potato podi, potato chop, Mangalorean bun, chorizo pav, chicken cutlet, sanna stuffed with boiled egg and chutney, and dal vada. Contrary to its name, The Breakfast Club Amboli also serves lunch items, available on pre-order basis: prawn caldine, beef sukha, chicken pathrade, buff chilly fry and pork bafat.
Popular dishes: Stuffed sanna, chorizo pav and potato chop.
How to order: Call 9821075447 or order online via Dunzo
4. Jasleen Marwah
Merely four years into the food business, home chef Jasleen Marwah has carved a niche for herself with traditional and simple home-style cooking of delectable Kashmiri Pandit and Kashmiri Muslim dishes. Marwah, under her brand Namak Swaad Anusaar, prepares a set menu for weekends, depending on time and availability of ingredients. “In the menu, I try to include dishes that are popular and sometimes, I also fit in something experimental that people might be willing to try. The quantity is usually about a kg and not individual portions,” says the Kashmiri home chef. Some of her signature offerings are tabak maaz, rogan josh, aab gosht, chicken yakhni and khatte baingan.
Popular dishes: Baingan yakhni, mutsch and dum aloo.
How to order: Call 9820453001 or message on @namakswaadanusaar on Instagram
After the COVID-19 lockdown rained on her plans to start a restaurant, certified plant-based chef Marina Balakrishnan, who specialises in Malayali cuisine, refused to call it quits and launched Oottupura in May 2020. This boutique food delivery service has a lavish spread of traditional delicacies from the Malabar region, integrated with the Ayurvedic philosophy of eating seasonal and using ancient cooking techniques, for the weekend. It is a wholesome meal with 10 items, from flavoured buttermilk, rice, lentil, vegetables to curry. Balakrishnan shares, “Once I have the produce in place then I think of what to cook and how to balance nutrition, flavours and colours.” So far, she’s cooked beetroot pachadi, lal maath thoran, oolan, avial and mambazha pullisherry.
Popular dishes: Avial and malazhamba pulisherry (seasonal).
How to order: Message on Instagram @thatthalasserygirl or log on to ThatThalasseryGirl.in
6. Dol’s Kitchen by Tiyash Sen
Tiyash Sen combines his love for travel and cooking into his food business, Dol’s Kitchen. Sen, who describes himself as a part-time filmmaker and full-time foodie, cooks only one dish at a time and sells individual portions every Tuesday and Friday. They are mostly meat-based dishes such as spicy tamarind pork, chicken rezala, buff roast, buff kala bhuna, chimichurri roast pulled pork and wok-style bacon chorizo rice.
Popular dishes: Buff roast and chicken rezala.
How to order: Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
7. Mahrukh’s Kitchen
Mahrukh Mogrelia is known to welcome guests to her ancestral home in south Mumbai to relish lip-smacking Parsi meals. The Nana Chowk-based home chef has stuck to cooking traditional Parsi fare for party orders amid the lockdown. She is also churning out homely meals once or twice a week, depending on the time in hand, for delivery. It is a limited menu which includes a variety of delectable age-old recipes from chicken dhansak to stew ma gosht, mutton cutlace, prawns pulao and caramel custard.
Popular dishes: Kuta, ambar ne papeta per eedu (eggs on tiny shrimps and potato) and lagan nu custard.
How to order: Email at email@example.com
8. Hungry Cat Kitchen
After spending 15 years as a media professional, Subashree Basu aka Bonny, a self-proclaimed foodie, took her love for all things pork and turned it into this business venture called the Hungry Cat Kitchen in 2015. A self-taught cook and cat mom, Basu started out as a home-based catering service but is now has a full-fledged commercial kitchen based in Mahim, which she runs with business partner Manju Malwade. Currently, Basu is whipping up limited, weekly menus and her repertoire includes innovative salads, hearty slow-cooked curries and stews, and desserts that are comforting recipe versions of a warm, cozy hug.
Popular dishes: Pork pot pie, kaffir lime pork curry and Thai curry.
How to order: Email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 9820928658
9. Insomniac Cook – Madhumita Pyne
Malad-based Madhumita Pyne, a filmmaker, design consultant, set up Insomniac Cook, a home-cooking venture, in 2014. She started it with a treasure trove of traditional Bengali recipes she learned from her mother and a passion for cooking. Murgir jhol (chicken curry), bhetki bhapa (bhetki fish steamed in a yogurt and mustard sauce), deem kosha (egg in a tomato and onion-based curry) and tok dal (masoor dal with green mangoes) are a few of the dishes on her menu. Over the years, Pyne has also ventured into retailing some kickass jams and sauces she whips up herself. In the lockdown, she designs two set menus a week, one for a weekday and another for the weekend, and the offerings range from dishes from a typical Bengali kitchen to other cuisines from West Bengal such as Mughlai and Bangladeshi.
Popular dishes: Bhapa chingri (steamed prawns with mustard and coconut) and loitta machher jhol (Bombay duck curry).
How to order: Call 09892803506
10. Soul Food
Helmed by true-blue foodie Ashish Seth, Soul Food, in its owner’s words, “only sells what they have mastered”. Its highlights include mouth-watering desi as well as videsi meat-based delicacies like butter chicken, gheewala mutton and rara mutton. Soul Food launched in June 2020 and focuses on family-sized portions of a particular item rather than creating a multi-dish menu every few days. Seth accepts orders a day prior to delivery and customers can check what’s on Soul Food’s menu for that week/coming days on its social media handle.
Popular dishes: Gheewala mutton and Singaporean chicken with sticky rice and veggies.
How to order: Call 9819767851
When Bandra-based fashion designer Sabina Manekia’s business shut down temporarily due to COVID-19, she, along with her daughter Imaan Surve, a media professional, decided to start MamaaMiya. They saw potential in Manekia’s love for cooking and feeding people and turned it into opportunity. While her mother cooks, Surve sources the ingredients, takes orders through the week and coordinates with third party application representatives who deliver their food over the weekend.
Popular dishes: Nani’s murgi ka saalan, shahi korma and chicken cheese kebabs.
How to order: Call 9820888019 or DM on Instagram/@mamaamiya2020
12. The Main Course
Among all the lockdown home chefs, who are giving commercial kitchens a run for their money, ad man Vivek Nayyar’s The Main Course stands out with a set menu of four meat dishes he loves to devour himself. Unlike others, The Main Course has a set menu since the day it launched, which is August 22, 2020, and it features family heirlooms such as a coconut-y Kerala chicken curry, his grandmother’s dahi chicken, succulent mutton fry and a slow-cooked junglee maas, a traditional Rajashtani meat recipe. Nayyar accepts order between Monday and Wednesday and delivers on Saturday and Sunday.
Popular dishes: Dahi chicken and junglee maas.
How to order: Call or message on 9321739179