One of the positives of the self-exile imposed upon us by the lockdown has been the nationwide resurgence in the popular interest in cooking. From Facebook to Instagram, to Twitter, turn to any social media channel and you’ll find it abuzz with chatter about who cooked what how marvellously.
The other day, I found even Saif Ali Khan, the normally reticent star, talk at length in a Web interview about how he’s in the kitchen from 7.30 pm till dinnertime (9 pm) making something or the other for the family, his crowning achievement being a layered biryani.
With no domestic help, and with parents spending more time with their children, cooking has become the new social adhesive. Scenting an opportunity to offset some of the losses they’ve been incurring for four months, leading restaurants, from AD Singh’s Olive and Zorawar Kalra’s Bo Tai to Riyaaz Amlani’s Smoke House Deli and Ritu Dalmia’s Diva, have been busy launching DIY kits to tap into the growing interest in home cooking. Similar to home deliveries, it’s a way to stay in touch with customers.
Rishiv (a development professional with a degree in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania, he’s behind the success of Comorin at Horizon Centre 2, Gururgram) and Tarika Khattar (a Cambridge University cricket Blue and budding film historian who has worked with Nandita Das on Manto and helped create the portal Cinestaan.com) have taken the passion for home cooking to another level with their website www.makery.in
The siblings, the children of Rohit Khattar, the self-effacing restaurant operator behind the hugely successful Indian Accent, Chor Bizarre and Comorin, were inspired by their experiences of lockdown in Mumbai. Now they are developing their answer to Blue Apron.com, which pioneered the idea of home-delivered meal kits in the United States, with pre-portioned, prepackaged ingredients.
It’s like seeing the recipe from a cookbook authored by a celebrity chef come alive in your kitchen. Each kit comes with accurately pre-portioned ingredients (like mine did for a vegetarian khao suey) and a well-illustrated recipe card, making the chore of cooking your own meal that much more interesting. The recipes, I discovered, leave you free to make your own tweaks – I added chicken and a dollop of chilli oil to my khao suey, and made a note that the next time I have it, I should use less than therecommended portion of coconut milk, which is packed with the rest of the ingredients
The siblings are working on the packaging to enable non-vegetarian ingredients to be transported, on forging alliances with restaurants across India and the world, developing ingredients and equipment, and a bank of cookery masterclasses. What they intend, is a one-stop destination for home cookery enthusiasts – in India, and around the world.