Pre-prepared home-cooked food gains popularity among working Indians- The New Indian Express



Express News Service

Sixty-five-year-old Sudha Rai from Delhi had run a tight ship at home all her life. As a mother to a special-needs child and caregiver to her ailing father, she had a lot of responsibilities. With age, however, it became too much to handle. “Someone recommended a delivery service in our neighbourhood run by a retired widow. You just need to place the order a day in advance and state your food preferences, and she sends a wholesome meal, including dal, sabzi, roti, salad and raita. Everyone at home is happy,” says Rai.

Readymade meal boxes or ‘Bento Boxes’, a multi-compartment box used for containing different courses of a usual Japanese lunch—has caught the imagination of a number of Indian players in the food and beverage industry. Heena Sodhi from Gurugram, a working mother of two, felt the lack of nutritious meal options for her children, both under 10, when ordering in. At home, she was struggling with the cumbersome nature of meal prepping ––caught between the desire to ensure healthy meals, but unable to always supervise the cooking due to her busy schedule. Conversations with other mothers revealed they had similar struggles, and this led her to launch the Make a Wish meal box service.

the Five Senses Delivery Box by Daryaganj;

Curated specially for children, these boxes include five-course meals that are freshly cooked, vegetarian, baked (not fried) and preservative-free. One can select from boxes that have kid-friendly items like pasta and pizza, staple Indian fare like dal and plant-based biryani and kebabs or order customised meal plans. Sodhi says, “Our meal boxes are designed to excite the child, while offering wholesome food that serves the entire family. Our recipes have been curated by Chef Dishant Bharia. We are now bringing in a famous nutritionist who will suggest dishes according to individual blood groups.”

The rising demand for pre-prepared home-cooked food was also the reason behind the launch of the Chef Pin app, which has a presence in multiple cities. As a platform for the discovery of home chefs cooking a variety of cuisines, it was born to serve the needs of the pandemic and continues to grow in popularity. Co-founder and CEO Siddharth Mohan shares, “There is a distinct advantage to ordering from a home chef because the food is fresh, rather than packaged food from restaurants, which is often frozen and re-heated.”

Siddharth Mohan with home chef Gul Ali; Prashant Issar;

The pre-packaged meal concept, however, isn’t limited to home chefs. Restaurants too are muscling in on this growing market. One of the most popular offerings at Café Allora, with presence in Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru, is its takeaway/delivery combo box consisting of a starter, soup, main course and dessert. Daryaganj, the Delhi restaurant helmed by the family that created the original butter chicken recipe, offers a ‘Five Senses Delivery Box’ recreating the glory of a past time.

Amit Bagga, co-founder and CEO of Daryaganj, summarises the appeal of his box, and perhaps of meal boxes in general: “Customers believe they don’t experience the same pleasure when they order food online compared to dining at restaurants, which is a blend of what our senses subconsciously experience. This is why we developed the concept to stimulate all senses.”These brands are expertly boxing together health
and good food.

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