Home cooked food is always good. The lockdown has given wings to the aspirations of a few secret chefs. No we are not talking about the ones who are cooking, feeding and posting recipes on social media. The secret chefs are those who decided to cook a fixed menu of their best dishes, and started selling through social media and a network.
The moment Swiggy and Zomato stopped food delivery operations in the city due to the lockdown, many people started exploring alternative food options. Prashant Sinha, partner at a coffee shop says that for a few days he managed with ready-to-eat meal packets. But he couldn’t do that for long. “Just then, a friend forwarded a WhatAapp menu. The lady cooks and the food needs to be picked up from her Banjara Hills, Road no 12 address. The menu is compact but does a good job of meeting everyday needs. The best part is I don’t have to do the dishes,” Prashant sighs in relief. He explains, “After a month of cooking meals and doing the dishes I would wake up every morning thinking how to escape eating and doing the dishes. Initially, it was all fun and part of a novel experience, but after a while it became a chore.”
While chores are divided at every home, those used to eating out, at least twice a week, seem to be missing that experience. Poonam C who is a jewellery designer is very popular for her home food among her friends. With a little extra push she is now busy from morning in her kitchen, preparing food that has been ordered the previous day. “More than the money it is the appreciation and experience,” says Poonam who’s butter chicken curry is the talk of town at the moment.
Both home chefs have benefited from positive word of mouth. To address the current COVID concerns, social distancing is strictly maintained; the food has to be picked up from a spot in the house/apartment and payment done online only.
Such entrepreneurial ideas are on a surge these days. At an apartment in Sainikpuri, it is the whiff of fried masalas and biryani on dum from a particular household led everyone asking what is cooking? “My husband loves cooking large quantities of food. So, when the enquiries came, we decided to use it to our benefit. Now at least seven households in our apartment are united by food. We are all eating the same dishes. We restrict our menu to one mains and one starter,” says Manisha S, a homemaker. She admits she makes no contribution to the cooking. “My son and husband take care of it, I just manage orders,” she laughs.
In a similar situation, when Ajay Roy from Yapral does not announce his menu for the day on the WhatsApp group, enquiries pour in. ‘No menu,?’ ‘Is it your off?’ Ajay’s food is so fresh that sometimes we might need to wait for 5 minutes to let the food cook. He isn’t someone who will compromise on the taste and quality, so if the food/curry has to boil for another 5 minutes, he will make you wait but won’t serve food that is below his cooking standard,” says a regular customer of Ajay’s food.
All businesses are not driven through Whatsapp though. A lot of housebound domestic helps are currently engaged in making snacks to sell within their bastis. “Except biryani makers and Chinese food bandis, we have all sorts of home made snacks. Even if someone is making bajjis in the evening and selling at double the usual rate, they are sold out in no time. We have closed the entrance to our basti from both sides for our safety. So we are making the best opportunity to explore business ideas,” giggles Krishnaveni M, a domestic help.