The lockdown has changed the status quo and many new habits may never revert to the original. Before the lockdown, I reminisced about my days when I was a trained chef and worked in kitchens. Since then, my skills had diminished to making scrambled eggs and the occasional pasta. The lockdown made me, unwillingly at first, revisit the kitchen. It brought back many memories of how it used to be therapeutic. And that home food can be good too. As for going out, I don’t think I really miss it all that much. Basically, the two issues—of loathing home food and missing restaurants— stand changed, thanks to home delivery. Let me take you through the two kinds and which I have thoroughly relished.
The first is straight up home delivery of ready-to-eat food. It’s all cooked and packed properly—safe and sanitised—and it turns up within an hour or so. The dishes that I have ordered are the kind I can’t make at home myself and, no, that doesn’t include pizza or burgers any more. Lack of a tandoor has meant that my cravings for tikkas and such remain unfulfilled. So one has no choice but to order in. My favourites have been Yours Truly Butter Chicken which, as the name spells out, is butter chicken-focused. They have various kinds, from a spiced up one to one with extra onions and tomatoes and, my new favourite, the one with meat keema! Now, a classic like butter chicken is something that nobody would be brave enough to mess with and yet Sumit and Chiquita Gulati did just that. The feat is braver when your second name—Gulati—is the one behind one of the classic institutions of the dish located at Pandara Road. And yet, the duo took it upon themselves to find a way to progress it and what has emerged is a fantastic bespoke butter chicken menu that allows you to have it your way—with or without bone, smokier, spicier and so on. The rest of the menu contains the usual suspects of dal makhani and some basic tikkas as also a smorgasbord of Indian breads. In other words, they have distilled down the menu to what north Indians most crave and order, which makes the process less complicated and quicker.
Another food delivery service which was great was Dhamaal—Indian food from the team that runs Dimcha. The packaging is lovely, very contemporary and solid, and the food is surprisingly good and authentic. Nothing too experimental here, just good fare as promised at sensible prices.
Then comes south Indian fare, and Mahabelly and Tenali rule the charts here. Another thing I crave is sushi, one dish where the difference between the cost of making it at home and ordering it in is largely negligible. For the longest time, Noshi has been my go-to address for home delivery. Recently, I tried Guppy, which offered to send me a sampler, but it had no fish-based dishes, so can’t comment on it. The DIY ramen kit was decent. It could be better if they didn’t use vegetarian broth for a non-veg ramen, but I guess that’s India for you.
But this isn’t the only type of eating I did. DIY kits are really catching on and some brands are doing it swimmingly well. Makery does a selective menu and their Chettinad was spot on. Chicago Pizza has the meanest home-pizza kits with a host of options, including some very premium meaty toppings. Full marks to them for getting it so right, all of that home-made love minus the amateurishness. Knock Knock helped me prepare a smoked chicken tikka masala with garlic naan at home, something I never thought I’d manage, and it was restaurant-level good. And the DIY burger from Smokehouse Deli’s menu is one of the juiciest patties you can bite into in the NCT region. So there you have it—some home work while you work from home to keep things healthy yet yummy.
The writer is a sommelier