March 3, 2021 9:10:58 am
As the pandemic made most fine-diners diversify into home delivery of food, there ensued a proliferation of cloud kitchens as well as takeaways. However, what most still missed was the experience of eating out. Even as utmost care was being taken by chefs to recreate the same flavours for the patrons, it was hard to distinguish between a neighbourhood cook and five-star chef when it came to packaged food.
It is to bridge this gap that high-end restaurants are focussing on packaging and presentation, says Gurugram-based Chef Bakshish Dean, Co-Founder at Culinary Quotient, a food consultancy. Dean says, “While the first phase of lockdown made restaurants venture into food deliveries, the next phase made them sit up and think harder about how to ensure that the food – when it reaches the patrons’ dining table – looks good and tastes fresh.”
For instance, Biryani By Kilo – which has registered more than 100 per cent of their pre-Covid sales — uses earthen handis to dum cook and deliver their signature biryanis all across the country. Vishal Jindal, co-founder at BBK, says, “These handis are eco-friendly and reusable and are greatly appreciated by our customers for their hygiene quotient. Also, using the same handi to cook and deliver the food, without shifting contents to another container, enhances its authentic flavours. It also helps that the earthen pots are porus, so they can retain flavours better.” For each handi, BBK also delivers aanch — a tealight lamp set-up that keeps the food warm on your dining table while you eat.
Fabcafe outlets, on the other hand, have started the meal tray option, where the meal is delivered to the car window in an eco- friendly disposable tray. “These trays are made of corrugated recycled paper; so, not only is the food guilt-free, the trays are also environmentally-friendly,” notes chef Sunil Chauhan, founder and managing director of Fabcafe. He adds, “The meal tray option keeps the customers’ safety and convenience at the core.” The trays are designed to hold individual portions of two-three dishes and a beverage, apart from accompaniments, disposable cutlery and wet tissues. These also come with an eco-friendly garbage liner to ensure proper disposal.
Eco-friendly, reusable, even edible has become the buzzword for the food delivery business. Parat by chef Harangad Singh – which delivers experimental Indian cuisine across the Capital – was among the many cloud kitchen that proliferated during the lockdown. Taking the packaging game to the next level, Parat uses sugarcane husk packaging and potato starch spoons. Singh says, “Indian cuisine is cooked at very high temperatures, so if you had to transfer the contents to a plastic container for delivery or to heat in a microwave, the flavours will change completely. So, we wanted to offer a substitute.” It also helps that the packaging is eco-friendly, and edible, if you will, adds the chef.
Apart from food, delivery and takeaways have extended to alcohol and beverages, cocktail mixers and even water. With everyone trying to shun single-plastic for good, aluminum cans are emerging as the go-to option. Amit Lahoti, managing director of Ball Beverage Packaging in India, says, “With the pandemic, hygiene became the big thing. A lot of aggregators are delivering mocktails and beverages along with food. While plastic is a no-no and glass tends to be breakable (hence, impractical), we are getting hugr demand for customised aluminium can packaging.” He is currently working with Foodhall and Modern Bazar outlets, and several fine-diners in the Capital who have recently diversified into deliveries. “With the pandemic, rules pertaining to the home delivery of alcohol also became a little easy, and aluminium cans are coming in handy not only for beer but also for wines and small whiskey packs,” he adds.
Even water is being kept out of plastic and glass for functional reasons. Homegrown brand Responsible Whatr is launching spring water in aluminium beverage cans. “When packaged in aluminium cans, the freshness of pure water is not altered when exposed to light or heat,” says Ankur Chawla, co-founder at Responsible Whatr. He adds, “The pandemic has acted as a catalyst in pushing the cause of moving towards a sustainable society by making intelligent choices. The consumers not only want to know what’s going in their body but have also become environmentally aware and friendly.”
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