The Coronavirus pandemic seems to have brought about a paradigm shift. Take for instance the changes in dining culture. Chefs and servers in partial space suits—masks, gloves and shield helmets greeting you at dine-ins—or a meal from your favourite restaurant cooked in your home kitchen with ‘virtual’ help from the chef. You can also enjoy an Italian meal at your dining table with music and scenic views from the country with just a click of a button. Your touchscreen devices can bring you a brunch from a five star, packed inside a tamper-proof box for a lazy sit-in Sunday. This was the Jetsons’ life in 2062; we have it here in 2020, earlier than expected, as the pandemic pushes forth ingenuity of culinary experts. Here’s where you can get a taste of it:
Fine Dine and Brunch @ Home
Can’t visit a restaurant? All eateries of Marriot across Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore come to you with their Meals on Wheels menu. At JW Marriott Juhu, the takeaway includes their signatures Tandoori Raan from Saffron, Dashanzi’s Steamed Sea Bass in XO sauce, and even DIY chaats. But on Sundays, the team pulls out all the stops, prepping their famed brunch buffet in tamper-proof bio-degradable boxes. Executive Chef Abhishek Basu tells us it packs six starters, chaat, a hummus platter and salads, six main course dishes from three cuisines and two desserts. “It’s a five-course meal for two people to enjoy for ₹ 2,999,” he says. All this food comes ‘upgraded’ to keep you fit and in fighting shape. “Our recipes now have extra immunity-boosting ingredients. The fish tikka gets an added nutritive boost with tulsi, and smoothies are powered with berries higher in antioxidants,” says Basu.
Kolkata’s food connoisseurs are in for a ‘journey world over, through food experiences’. The Salt House in South Calcutta has been packing home delivery boxes and DIY kits with something extra—a multi-sensory experience. This week, they are taking you to Italy. Pick from a takeaway paired with fine wine, a DIY kit or download Italian recipes from The Salt House cloud to make it with ingredients at home. Once you’ve dressed the table the Italian way with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, log onto their Spotify playlist for some Italian music. There’s also a repository of scenic pictures of the countryside on their social media pages for you to browse through. “This is the first of a grand European tour we’ve planned,” says Saloni Jhunjhunwalla, Partner, The Salt House. “We’ll soon have meal experiences to take you through Spain, Italy, Turkey, Lebanon, Greece, even the Middle East and Mumbai,” she says.
Baked Goodness From a Book
Owner and pastry chef of Le15, Pooja Dhingra is making it possible for everyone to eat good pastry, even those outside the Le15 delivery radius. Her e-book features recipes from the patisserie, re-crafted for baking at home. “The idea came to me a month into the lockdown. The world took to baking and found it therapeutic. I started baking in my home kitchen, too, and realised while we couldn’t work out of Le15, we could still help people make their favourite desserts at home,” says Dhingra. The e-book has recipes of 25 of their top-sellers. Yes, the red velvet cupcake and macarons are in there, too. Indexed as per levels of difficulty (beginner to expert), it also lists the equipment and the ingredients Dhingra used. “Weighing scale or measuring cups, spatula, whisk and mixing bowls are absolute essentials,” she says. This, along with Pooja’s first e-book Le15 Café Cookbook (stories and recipes from the now-closed Le15 café) is available on the Le15 website.
Chef’s Table @ Home
Because you can’t step out for a luxurious dining experience, the chefs at Grand Hyatt Mumbai are coming to you. Well, kind of. On June 29, they are launching the Chef’s Table service for homes. “We will send the ingredients with detailed instructions on cooking and setting up a four-course meal for two. The package includes virtual assistance from our chefs, if you’d need one,” says Executive Sous Chef Siddharth Noronha. Celini regulars can get a taste of Chef Alessandro Persico’s signatures. You get prepped ingredients and steps to prepare a stew of fresh shellfish, scallops, lobster and fish served with caramelised lime, olives and hazelnut dust; a salad; and roasted chicken roulade with marble potato mash, root vegetable, dijonette reduction and brown butter glaze for mains. Dessert is Snow chocolate rice pudding crème brûlée with orange caramel and cinnamon crunchy puffed rice praline. “You can pick between Asian, Indian or Italian, or even mix and match to create your own table from 60 recipes,” says Noronha.
Turn your stash of alcohol into a Mai Tai or a Margarita that you once enjoyed at the bar in pre-corona times. As part of the #SOCIALOffline experience curated for these social-distancing times, the café-bar is delivering pre-made mixers of their signature cocktails. “Have tequila or vodka in the pantry? You can use our DIY mixer with tomato juice, lime juice, salt, black pepper powder, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco to make our signature Bloody Mary at home,” says Nilesh Patel, Beverage Head (West), Impresario Handmade Restaurants. The mixers, priced at ₹ 150 per serving, are being delivered within 6 km radius of their Carter Road outpost, with more areas to be added soon.
DIY Happy Meals
Even kids deserve to feast at their favourite eat-outs, as long as it’s safe. Smoke House Deli is offering a solution to parents in the form of Junior DIY Deli kits. “You get to make a special activity out of cooking their favourites while everyone is isolating,” says Jaydeep Mukherjee, Chef and Brand Head, Smoke House Deli. Kits for kids include recipes and pre-prepped ingredients for pizzas, pancakes and cookies. “They are designed to be suitable for children to be part of the action and available in Mumbai,” says Mukherjee. Once the kids hit the bed, have a date-night with your own selection of the Deli’s DIY range. “Each kit serves two. The painstaking prep is done by the Smoke House Deli team, while patrons get to finish the dish at home,” he says.
Eat, Drink and Learn
You know it’s true love when your favourite restaurant or café—O Pedro and The Bombay Canteen in this case—pull all strings to bring food to you beyond their delivery radius. And soon, their beverage manager, too. “We plan to launch a Canteen Cocktail Party At Home experience, where our bar manager Rahul Raghav becomes your expert bartender for the night and shakes up favourites from The Bombay Canteen for your group of upto 10 guests, at your home,” says Sameer Seth, Partner, Hunger Inc Hospitality. Until then, you can sign up for the cocktail making classes with your friends or book a phone meeting with Rahul to create a drink that’s all about you. “We’ll even add it to our menu,” says Sameer. You can also have your small get-together catered for or get a kit to cook with three of your friends. Pick from a crash-course in Goan and Portuguese delicacies with Chef Hussain Shahzad or cook a spread with Chef Thomas Zacharias from his various ‘Chef On The Road’ travels. “Kits for e-learning sessions will be delivered to you so that you can cook along with our chefs without worrying about where to source ingredients from,” adds Seth.