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Haute & hot cuisine

As the hospitality industry adapts to the new normal, home deliveries are offering an experience on a par with what restaurant dining used to be, writes Neeta Lal
Last Updated : 05 August 2020, 06:40 IST
Last Updated : 05 August 2020, 06:40 IST

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As the deadly coronavirus upends businesses around the world, India’s hospitality sector has been forced into a hard reset. With diners wary of eating out, high-end restaurants and star hotels are focusing on home deliveries to sustain businesses and ensure brand recall in a brutally competitive industry.

Those that were initially testing the waters by offering limited menus are now looking at deliveries as a long-term proposition providing an experience at par with what restaurant dining used to be. Some have even launched their own delivery fleets to ensure hygiene while also throwing in DIY kits, butler services, chefs on call offers and wine recommendations into the mix to further woo customers.

DIY Meal Basket
DIY Meal Basket

Variety on a platter

Featuring a smorgasbord of cuisines from its restaurants, Italian expert Executive Chef Ivan Chieregatti’s ‘to go menu’ has authentic Italian, Chinese, Japanese/Thai specialities, Indian/European, and breads and desserts too. To amplify the sybaritic at-home culinary experience, the multinational hospitality chain that he represents, has also launched a food ordering website. “We’re also trying to personalise all orders while maintaining the quality of food as per protocols,” informs Julian Ayers, General Manager.

Signature specialities like Pizza La Piazza, Yellow Prawn Curry and Gong Bao Chicken and a variety of salads and wraps, to comforting Indian specialities and seasonal delights like mango cheesecake can be ordered on-site. A Bake-at-Home Bread Kit comes packed with ingredients to let home bakers craft a heart-warming loaf of bread.

Hygiene remains paramount

This twin hotel chain in Bengaluru has embraced the technological wave by delivering unique dining experiences to home diners. “Each item in our kitchen is prepared under a carefully monitored environment, starting from the selection of the freshest ingredients to packaging. The kitchen is regularly sanitised and all personal hygiene protocols are strictly adhered to as part of the cleanliness standards,” explains Chef Durbar Basu Ray. Expect wholesome gluten-free pastas, salads, vegan pizzas and burgers as well as DIY kits which let home cooks rustle up fuss-free delicacies featuring cage-free eggs, spinach, basil, millets and more.

From Pizza Salami Picante to Satay Ruam — (chicken/lamb/prawns), signature tandoori chicken to luscious butter chicken as well as creamy tiramisu, this hotel in the capital, which is popular with business and leisure travellers, is focusing on world cuisine. Designed by award-winning multicuisine masterchef Neeraj Tyagi, the lockdown menu features dishes with seasonal ingredients, homegrown vegetables/fruits as well as healthful and long-forgotten grains. “We’re also leveraging technology to focus on safety and hygiene. All our menus are linked to QR codes. After scanning them, a direct call can be made on our delivery reservation number or routed through Zomato. Payments can be online or through third-party delivery platforms. The feedback is taken the next day by the food delivery team,” informs Tyagi.

This convention centre in Hyderabad has gotten into the home delivery game by delivering local favourites like special high-tea combos, desserts in a glass and other fun concepts, informs General Manager Manish Dayya.

Dumplings
Dumplings

Another five-star hotel in the capital has curated a special self-pickup and home delivery menu packed with favourites from all its award-winning restaurants. It features Asparagus and Pok Choy Dumplings, Prawn and Chive Dumplings, Chengdu Stir-Fried Sliced Lamb, Steamed Silver Fish fermented from their kitchen.

This Italian speciality restaurant in Delhi has Neapolitan pizzas, Gnocchi and Risotto Ai Fungi Porcini in its delivery menu and also offers special DIY kits for little diners, low-carb set meals, and a range of freshly baked breads and cakes,” adds a spokesperson.

With health and immunity almost an obsessive concern among diners, this chef-led European cuisine restaurant is spotlighting all things healthy. “Our magnified focus is on nutritional value, immunity-boosting ingredients and safe delivery. Artisanal foods incorporating local seasonal ingredients lie at our core vision,” informs feted Chef Jatin Mallik, who is an expert at modern European cuisine. Expect local seasonal ingredients like locally grown spinach, indigenous bhindi and winter carrots. Other gastronomic goodies include slow-cooked leg of chicken with local gourd, baby onions and kasundi, pork belly wrapped pork loin with summer greens, spinach pok choy beans/ fenugreek creamy mash, caramelised chilli sauce and crackling crumbs. Salad of shaved broccoli, black quinoa, rocket, 21-day fermented apple, lychee and another one featuring goat cheese, baked beets, melon, capers, and apple walnut dressing is selling like hotcakes.

Chef Neeraj Tyagi
Chef Neeraj Tyagi

Cloud kitchens

Cloud kitchens have perhaps been least impacted by the pandemic and hope to bounce back fastest. “For big brands in food delivery, the pandemic has worked as a silver lining. We’re back to 70%-75% of our business volume before Covid-19,” says Kaushik Roy co-founder and CEO of a popular pan-India biryani & kebab delivery chain.

Leveraging the Nizami culinary heritage, the company’s lockdown takeaways include Paneer Nawabi, Kathal (jackfruit) biryani, Veg Galouti and Burani Raita. Hyderabadi, Lucknowi and Kolkata-style biryanis apart from kormas/kebabs as well as signature desserts (Phirni, Gulab Jamun with Rabdi) effectively showcasing India’s remarkable syncretic gastronomic traditions.

Chef Jatin Mallick
Chef Jatin Mallick

Fresh dum cooked biryani is delivered in handis (clay pots) in tamper-proof sealed bags with contactless delivery. “Every individual order is cooked in a different container and the same is delivered to the customer. This ensures safety, hygiene, eco-friendliness and retains flavours,” informs a chef.

In a market cluttered by cloud kitchens, some are upping their game by adding a unique personal touch. Chef Chiquita Gulati, an alumni of Les Roches International School of Hotel Management, Switzerland has crafted a concept called ‘Nayi Dilli Ke Paranthe’ which involves a ‘Make your own Parantha’ concept. Customers get to choose their preference of dough — wheat, maida, palak, beetroot — as well as the cooking style — tandoor or tawa. Main stuffings include aloo, mooli, gobhi, paneer, chicken tikka, mutton keema and butter chicken. After selection, the paranthas are prepared and dispatched. Side dishes include rajma, choley, aloo tariwala, keema matar, matar paneer, kali dal, chicken curry, etc. Complimentary beverages like lassi, shikanji or nimbu paani sweeten the deal further.

“We carry forth a legacy that began with our home brand in post-Partition Delhi. However, we’ve evolved its food lexicon into a more contemporary version of Indian food, which is better suited to a modern-day palate without compromising on the authenticity of flavours,” sums up Chiquita.

Chef Chiquita Gulati
Chef Chiquita Gulati
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Published 01 August 2020, 18:35 IST

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