An alluring tangle of scents envelops my kitchen. Strips of bacon caramelise noisily in earthy, sweet miso and a generous splash of truffle oil. I toss in a trembling bowl of delicate noodles and handful of fresh, chopped scallions. Also, a creamy wedge of cheese.
Serving it into a bowl, I add a perfectly boiled egg — the yolk still bright — and top it with dark, fragrant Thai basil oil. The result is a moreish, comforting and hearty meal. More importantly, it is still steamy from the heat of the pan, just like it would be in a restaurant.
Full disclosure: I could never make noodles this good. And I wouldn’t have dared to blend cheese, miso, bacon and truffle oil — an unexpected, unpredictable clash of culinary cultures. This is out of a paper bag.
Noodl is another reassuring reminder that contemporary cloud kitchens are getting better everyday, proving that there is light at the end of the tunnel for the hospitality sector despite the darkness of the pandemic.
Launched a few weeks ago by Mathangi Kumar, chef and partner at the temporarily closed Summer House Eatery, Noodl runs out of her home kitchen.
Confessing to a noodle addiction, “right from sevai to udon,” she says the brand is “a celebration of anything stringy”. Since Mathangi is cooking herself, Noodl offers just one item every week.
However, unhampered by set menus, Mathangi fuses unexpected ingredients with seductive results. “The noodles could be rice, egg, udon, soba, fettuccine…,” she says.
I try Thai-inspired Mazemen (₹450), which offers juicy Shiitake mushrooms to replace bacon for vegetarians. Last week, she made Sichuan Mala noodles with a rich, peanut sauce topped with spicy chorizo (₹350).
The packs come with precise instructions on how to heat and serve the dish. Don’t worry, it isn’t really DIY and, once dinner is ready, you will have just one pan to wash.
Call Mathangi on 9840299932 or follow Noodl.madras on Instagram to order.
The fact that 18-year-old Dylan Pereira is never totally happy with his pizza is encouraging.
His hearty Toco, generously topped with smoked chicken sausages, is already good. And his ceaseless quest for the perfect crust means it will only get better.
On a break from college because of the pandemic, Dylan decided to use lockdown to experiment with his Gozney Roccbox, a portable restaurant-style pizza oven, at home in Chennai. Inspired by his Italian mother’s cooking, Dylan says he interned at the popular Pizzeria Dodo in Sestri Levante, Italy, after school.
Explaining why he loves pizzas, he says, “No two pizzas are the same. When I make them, I feel one out of 10 will be brilliant, and so I always work believing the next one will be better.”
He currently makes just three kinds: Margarita (₹220), Popeye with mushrooms and spinach (₹250) and Toco smoked chicken sausages (₹290).
Competitively priced, with generous portions and high quality ingredients, the pizzas are ideal for a lazy evening of watching Indian Matchmaking on Netflix. And unlike Sima Taparia, your stars do not need to be aligned to match with this satisfyingly robust crust.
Call Dylan on 9940075322 to order.
CURI Renal Diet Canteen
A hospital canteen on Swiggy: Now there is a startling sign of the times we live in.
But wait, before you dismiss this as a dreary idli- kanji-poha diet, check out the menu. They have chicken keema appams, thinai biryani and paneer parathas, in addition to carefully balanced thalis.
Gayathri Ananthakrishnan, MD of CURI hospital on the OMR, says that they have always had a canteen catering to their in-house patients, and decided to expand operations to help people on special diets, including those recovering from COVID-19.
“Food is so important for both emotional and physical well being,” says Gayathri, adding that their chef and dieticians have found creative ways to make healthy food more interesting. For kidney patients, they cut back on salt, replacing it with herbs, raw mango, lime etc.
She stresses that hygiene is paramount. “We take care of our kitchens the same way we look after our wards and operating theatres,” she says, adding that — if you call the hospital directly, their staff deliver meals for upto a seven-kilometre radius.
This could be especially useful for patients in home quarantine. “They need nutritious food, but can’t shop. It is also a hassle to cook three times a day,” says Gayathri, adding that they pack the meals with fruit, vegetables and protein, like eggs, chicken tofu, paneer and dal.
A lot of repeat orders come from senior citizens living by themselves. “Many of them are tired of daily cooking. Sometimes, it is nice to order in, and treat yourself.”
Call 6383914885 to consult CURI’s dieticians, and order meals. They are on Swiggy as well.
This weekly column tracks the city’s shifting culinary landscape. Heard of a new food venture? Tell me: firstname.lastname@example.org
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