Dishing Up India’s Dining Past

Parsis are known for their love for food and love for life in general. Their cuisine has great options though most of them forgotten or not prepared on a day to day basis. Hence when a restaurant had a parsi food festival in town, I jumped at the option. The restaurant was jam packed. This just led me to think that people are willing to try the old tried and tested recipes and are even willing to a pay a premium for it. A dish which was once a common dish in household, is today in celebrated in a festival. But why??

The old process of making such a dish was elaborate but thrived nonetheless because people had ample time. As households got busier, and quick food became the norm, these began to fade away from collective memory. As people had started eating out a lot more, a whole lot of recipes were getting lost.

But it’s time to bring them back. A battery of food enthusiasts — historians, restaurateurs, writers and chefs are out to revive the country’s fading culinary traditions. They travel to remote places, jog memories of old folks and search through ancient texts to bring to life dying or dead recipes. With the food, old stories, too, have got a new lease of life. While researchers have been independently trying to document and archive these recipes, it is the support of hotels that has brought their work to the world. A team of professional chefs worked alongside to verify the authenticity of the flavors, veracity of the stories and also to provide technical expertise. To ensure that such efforts are not a flash in the pan, hotels have made these recipes a part of their menu.

The revival of the fading culinary delights has also led to the demand of large copper & brass utensils.   As copper and brass utensils make a comeback, re-tinning is in demand again. This has led to a demand for kalaiwala (re-tinning vendor). Thus another dying art is saved.

This sudden nostalgia for food of the old is a worldwide phenomenon. Globally, it has become fashionable to talk about lost recipes. People like Jamie Oliver and Michelle Obama have been talking about it. People have become more conscious about eating seasonal, local produce. Indian tradition has always followed that. Hence, there is a revival of sorts.

As a country moves up the income curve, it invests time and effort to revisit its past. Indians have developed a new fondness for yoga, Ayurveda and mythology. Food nostalgia was just waiting to happen.

Millets that had disappeared from kitchens have made a comeback in a big way, as have ingredients such as makhana and kokum. Makhana which was mostly a product consumed during fasting is today available in various flavors. Revival also means coming back of these ingredients into the mainstream. Paper Boat is one such brand which was built with the aim of preserving traditional recipes. It uses innovation to ensure the authentic drink is accessible for the mass market. Paper Boat’s beverages such as Aam Panna and Jal Jeera are drinks that their consumers grew up drinking and carry a strong association with their childhood. While an attempt is made there are many more mysterieswhich remains to be solved in this journey

Any such memories of food which you wish to share



If A Ballot Box Can Reach Every Village, Why Can’t A Product

During the just concluded Karnataka election where every conscious citizen voted, there were surely a lot of learnings. We saw booths every 500 mtrs,, well equipped, having people to guide the voters, security personnel etc. to ensure that the voter cast his/her voted. Seeing the smooth functioning of the voting process a friend of mine who is into retail stated ”if a ballot box can reach every village in India so that every citizen can vote, why cannot a product reach to every village to a customer who wishes to buy it”

This actually made me think. The election commissioner needs to plan till the last mile for the ballot box to reach. There needs to be a means of transport both for the humans as well as the ballot box. The Commission also needs to ensure that every citizen eligible to vote is aware of his/her right. If an Election Commission a government department can do it why for profit based company do it? Even today there are thousands of villages which do not have access to basic products. The FMCG companies have not been able to reach them.

Remember a colleague stating that whenever he went to his home town he had to travel 2 villages to buy basic groceries. He says the whole village buys their basic needs during the weekly market (Haat). A haat serves as a trading venue for local people in rural areas. It provides as major marketing platform for many FMCG brands .So a household need to plan for it needs well in advance. Incase they run out of stock in between then they need to travel far off to buy it. Why is that the FMCG companies have not reached these villages inspite of there being a demand for it?

These villages struggle to get their basic needs fulfilled, so getting their aspirational needs fulfilled is a dream. This is where the online platform have an advantage. If they can work on their logistics so that their products reach every pin code in the country then sky is the limit for their growth. Few companies are trying to merge the gaps with the use of technology. The villager with a help of a shopkeeper can place an order for an aspirational product (e.g., latest mobile, jewelry, sport kits, apparels etc.) the company dispatches the order to the shopkeeper from where the customer can collect the products. Here the shop keeper acts as a mediator for the online platform and the customer and acts as a trust factor for both the parties in the transaction.

Yet another interesting factor during the election was receiving a slip in our letterbox with all the details in aiding in the voting process. The slip had all the details along with the name, number, booth number, route map to the voting booth etc. this helped in easing the process of voting. One of the reason many people do not vote as they are not aware of the booth in which their name is enrolled, hence they need to do booth hopping, going through each individual pages to identify their name etc. the slip provided by the political party really helped. Now one may or may not vote for the party which provided the slip, but it definitely helped in ensuring that the voter cast his vote.

Similarly the retailers and the brand need to educate the customer in different categories, build awareness, aid in the buying process etc. The final decision lies with the customer if he/she buys from the brand or the retailor just like a well aware voter cast his vote.

,   #EVMs, #electioncommissionofindia,  #Elections2018, . ,

In The Land Of Weddings Has The Buck Been Passed On?

As an Indian parent however modern thinking one may be, one of the major aspects considered during a financial planning is the wedding expenses of their kids. It is more an important goal than their own retirement corpus though only after the education corpus for their children. Such is the importance attached in the mindset of the parents that the marriage expenses as a goal is in the goal sheet of every financial advisor.

This trend has continued for ages or has anything changed??? Maybe not from the parents’ point of view. But definitely from the children’s point of view. Today atleast a few of the kids do not want to burden their parents financially. While a few saved enough money to fund their own weddings, a very few have identified an innovative method for funding their weddings. A MARKETEER!!!!. A MARKETEER I REPEAT..A New Wedding idea.

Had been to a wedding recently. The wedding invite itself surprised me as it was from a well known brand.The wedding decor  was beautiful , had the best of the food, the bridal wear was from a well-known brand so was the bridal jewelry. There was a counter where one could use sunglasses from a well-known brand as a prop for the guest to take their photos and take it home as party favors, guest were given expensive return gifts which included, cosmetics, skin care essentials, expensive tea, macaroons, and artisanal soaps. I was surprised at the amount of money spent on making the dream wedding come true. Maybe they could have bought a house on that money I wondered. This was until I found that the family did not spent any amount. Surprise Surprise. The entire wedding was sponsored by the brands and the money the couple saved on the wedding they actually invested in a house .But why did the brands sponsor the wedding??? The bride is a lifestyle blogger who has a huge following on the Instagram. Hence through the wedding the brands could reach out to their target customer. The blogger is an opinion leader for the followers and they look at her to know the products, brands used. Hence the blogger using the specific brand on the most important day of her life gives the brand a stamp of acceptance among her followers.

Brands like to work with people who are on the same wavelength as them. The whole brand integration made sense because it happened organically

In the old days, it was all about readership in media terms, viewership in television terms, listenership in radio terms and OTS (opportunity to see) in terms of outdoor advertising. Then those days morphed into the days of the celebrity who jumped out of the realm of Bollywood or cricket. Now the new celebrity is the blogger. Infact brands believe that blogger-followership are more solid than the cosmetic followership of celebrities.

From parents paying for the wedding to paying for your own wedding to getting others to fund your wedding, the buck has been successfully passed on.

Are the brands and the brides listening???

#beautifulbride  #bridaljewelry#bridalmakeover #bridalmakeup #bridalparty #bridalphotography #bridalwear #bride #brideandgroom #bridelook#bridesmaid #bridetobe #chicwedding  #crazywedding #destinationweddings #diywedding #diyweddingideas #dreamwedding  #fineartphotography #fineartwedding #gettingmarried #gorgeousbrides #groom  #instabride #instadress #instawedding #luxurywedding #modernwedding #realwedding #savethedate  #vintagewedding  #weddingblog #weddingcake #weddingceremony #weddingday#weddingdecor #weddingdetails #weddingdress#weddingfashion #weddingflorals#weddingflowers  #weddinghair  #weddingideas #weddinginvites#weddingmakeup #weddingparty  #weddingphotographer #weddingphotos  #weddingplanning #weddingreception #weddingring  #weddings #weddingshoes #weddingshot #weddingstylist #yestothedress





Target Advertising Is The Lifeline Of Retail

Off late there have been a lot of controversies with regard to right to privacy etc, there are lot of arguments for and against Aadhar. But the question really arises do we really lead private lives. The answer is overwhelmingly NO. Some by choice and some thanks to technology.

In one of the alumni meet a friend said there is nothing in the meet as we know what’s happening in each other’s life thanks to Facebook. Today thanks to technology the charm of meeting is lost. Here the privacy is lost by choice or maybe compulsion (social) to some extent. Today our privacy is also lost due to our browsing history which helps in knowing a bit of us in terms of our hobbies, aspirations plan etc and the same being shared with the respective stakeholders.

Remember some time back a friend sharing his experience in this regard. He had planned to attend a marriage during the weekend and discussed the same with his wife. As the venue was at a distance they also discussed about the mode of transport. The next day he receives a mail from a cab aggregator regarding outstation cabs to attend the wedding for the weekend. The couple was surprised on receiving the message as they had no browsing history or mail etc. regarding the topic. Yet their need was identified. Later the cab aggregator clarified that it was a random mail sent to everyone as it was a wedding weekend and lots of wedding were planned. But the point is the fear of no longer leading private lives.

Have experienced quite a few such instances myself. Once was browsing about the location reviews etc. of a restaurant which was highly recommended by a friend. Since the place was far off never went to that place and later forgot about it. One fine day wanted to order online for a home delivery and on opening the food delivery app the first restaurant which was shown was the restaurant which I had searched some time back. Now the app knew I wished to go to that restaurant and helped me order from there, based on the browsing history. Did I order from that restaurant? A Big YES.

A colleague wanted to compare shirts available in the store against those available online. Hence he checked for a few shirts online just to understand the pricing, materials, colors etc. Post that he states every time he logged he would see advertisements of shirts everywhere. He states the ads were so much on your face that he had a fear of being stalked. The browser history indicated that he was looking to buy a shirt and the advertisements were helping him in making the decisions.

If the technology is used in its true sense then it can aid retail, help the customers in their decision making. It can definitely help retail to target the right customers, can decrease the advertisement cost and improve sales. But the line between aiding and invading is diminishing. That’s a challenge

Any such experience on the same?

#blog, # Indianretail, # Retailblog, #Indianblog, #ola, #uber, #amazon, #flipkart, #swiggy, #zomato, #myntra, #jabong,



Ice Cream Innovation Not To Be Taken Coldly

Went to an ice cream outlet recently and the found that the store sells ice cream in a form of a roll, different flavors of ice cream is spread thin on a base and then rolled over just like a sheet of paper and presented with different fruits, nuts, sauces etc. the whole presentation in the form of a roll was beautiful so was the taste.

In a world where innovation is the norm we have been saturated with the news on innovation in terms of Science & technology, medicine etc. While most of these innovation might not fascinate a common man, he/she will never be satiated by the innovation in food. The innovation in food has fascinated most of us. One industry which has innovated greatly is the ice cream industry especially by the domestic players.

There is another outlet which customizes the ice cream as per our request in terms of flavors, nuts, syrups etc., mixes all them on a cold marble store which gives it a new flavor. Yet another store has a fried ice cream. An ice cream and fried??Yes an ice cream gets a crispy outer coat of a batter and super cool inner core??Yet another store has a liquid nitrogen ice cream. Also there are a lot of option in terms of presentation, a pizza ice cream, a paan ice cream, a cake ice cream etc. A simple ice cream with so many options.

Innovation in terms of flavors have always added to the excitement in the industry. There are several unique flavors launched by different players, caramel biscotti, , pink currant, pistoria, paan, sandalwood, Japanese green tea ,Kolkata meetha, Gauva chilli , Masala Chai (provided inflight by an international airline) and then there is Charcoal Ice cream. Few brands also have fruits ice cream and there is innovation in terms of fruits chosen e.g. tender coconut, jack fruit etc.

Ice cream need not be a season specific product, it can be a festive specific also. A brand of ice cream has a festive-oriented ice creams Makar Sankranti Special, containing sesame seeds and peanuts, and a Ramzan special with dates & nuts

An industry which is plagued by accusation of leading to obesity especially in children, another innovation done is the diet-friendly ice creams such as low-fat and sugar-free ice cream. The interest in clean labelling is growing as well. Most of the new products launched have one or more claims relating to naturalness and freedom from additives and preservative. Besides ice-cream, frozen yoghurt is stepping up as a category within the frozen desserts segment.

An innovation is in progress for slowing of the melting process or for that matter no melting . Won’t it help the industry if the ice cream stops melting? Can buy ice cream anywhere any time!!Even packaging is another area where innovation is being undertaken. How about a pack which is fully edible?? Can be reality soon.

In a world obsessed with Selfies can the ice cream industry be left behind?? There is 3D food printing available for such consumers

There is a lot to learn for others from the ice cream industry in terms of innovation. Have you witnessed any such innovation in the retail industry?? Do share with us.


On The Food Trail

While planning for a holiday each of us have different expectations. Some seek adventure, others like to laze around reading a book, many like to lie in the sun on the beach, some love shopping, and yet another tribe would like to plan the travel revolving around food.

Back in college days had a friend who always used to invite friends to his city and he would take them around introducing him/her to the local food. He used to boast that he knew the best food joints of the city serving different cuisines in the town. These joints would generally be like a hole in the wall. The whole travel would be planned around food. Post that have met quite a few who travel for food. While lot of us do research about the local food we try to accommodate it during the sightseeing. But for a few the food is the journey as well as the destination.

Know of a friend who postponed her travel to one of the countries as the best restaurant in the city a Michelin star restaurant was fully booked for those days. Her purpose for the travel was trying the local cuisines. If the booking in the restaurant is not confirmed then her travel is also not confirmed.

The whole concept of Michelin company (a French tyre company) rating the restaurant is based on travel. A Michelin 1 star restaurant is “A very good restaurant in its category” where one could have her/his food if the restaurant is on their way towards the destination. While a 2 star indicates “Excellent cooking, worth a detour” Whereas a 3 star indicates “Exceptional cuisine worth a specific journey”.

Over the years have met several people who drive on weekends to faraway places just to eat at a specific eatery. Most of them are small snack joints specializing in the local cuisines. They serve just 2-3 varieties of food and don’t have a menu but they are best at it. In many cities these places are iconic places in itself where the visit to the city is not complete without a visit to these joints. A MTR in Bangalore, a Saravana Bhavan in Chennai, Paradise in Hyderabad and maybe an ideal ice cream in Mangalore.

Even within a city there are several walks planned by foodie entrepreneurs who take you around a locality with stops at different joints and trying out their best dish. E.g. there are food walks in different localities across Bangalore where a person gets to taste the best Idli, dosa, vada, coffee etc. in the locality. Thus a person gets the feel of the locality through it cuisines. In this fast paced world a foodie might know where the best food is available. These entrepreneurs though several trails and errors curate a menu for such walks. There are certain walks planned during festival so as get a feeling of the festival food. E.g Ramzan . Now isn’t a mouthwatering concept?

Have you have ever travelled for food? Know someone who travels for food? What has been the experience?

The Story Around Food

Since some time had been exploring various restaurants cafes etc. in an attempt to understand the restaurant business. Found quite a few interesting ones .Each of these cafés/ restaurants were based on different theme , had a purpose apart from being profitable and interestingly were all doing well. Yet another common factor is all these places were beautiful houses converted to the restaurants. That gave these place a homely feeling unlike the commercial ones.

One of the café was a book store cum library cum café. A couple who loved reading converted their beautiful 3 storied house into a this café. The place is full of books. Apart from this it has a lot of open space. Infact one of the floor is empty with a just a stage. As the library conducts lots of activities like the book release story telling, drama etc. At any point in time the place is crowded with people across ages from a four-year old kid who came with her parents for the story telling session or a 80-year-old lady who came for the book release . The day I visited there was infact both in different time schedules. The library also sell various books. Infact the founder states that he does not believe in the bill conversion concept as almost every customer buys a book there as he has books in various languages , various fields which are not readily available elsewhere. This he says is his hall-mark. While people loved to spend time reading, watching listening etc there, he identified a demand for tea coffee and some light snacks. Thus his bakery business started. Today he has a well-known brand of bakery products which is sold across the city with different retailers. Yet at heart he remains a book lover and wish to contribute in building the reading habit of people. The story telling session book release etc which do not charge for attending are the major attraction for people who tend to remain loyal to the library. So here is a person who does not believe in the normal marketing strategies and statistics just follows his heart and does well.

The second café was into healthy eating, fitness, organic etc positioned as a yoga studio and healthy food restaurant. This was started by 2 women who were into fitness. The food offered were the modern-day food with the healthy twist e.g. momos made of ragi, a pizza made of amaranthus flour base, scrambled tofu wrap with beetroot etc. The café is on multiple level with each floor having a different theme. The studio has aerial yoga, aerobics, kallari does classes on growing one’s own vegetables etc. The duo believe in the concept that healthy food can be tasty also. Through this they wish to bring a healthy lifestyle in society through a combination of exercise and healthy eating

The third one is purely based on eating and eating along and does not have any other aspects. But it’s not one of the run of the mill types. This restaurant serves dishes purely made of millets and other healthy rice like red rice black rice. Does not use white rice, refined flour, sugar, baking soda, artificial flavours etc. Right from the idlis, dosa, sweets, rotis etc. all are made of millets. The flavours are the ones which was lost long ago by the present generation expecting a fast convenient food. This is an endevour by a farmer’s son who after globe-trotting wanted to go back to his roots of eating millets. An attempt in his own words to reduce his sins for having sold unhealthy food to customers in the name of achieving the targets. An attempt to provide a healthy and tasty option to the customers and making the traditional recipes fashionable.

Here each of these place has created a niche for itself ,identified a gap, were passion turned to profession, an aim of giving back to the society, not driven by numbers and promoted using the non-conventional medium yet are successful??

Have you visited any such places??

#enerjuvate, #attagalatta, #grambhojana, #healthyeating, #millets