A delivery pop up (delhi NCR) of fusion onam sadya , bengali dishes by Pritha sen & Malayali dishes by Prima Kurien)
This is a series about how eating out is, post COVID lockdown. Read about the previous dining out / takeaway / home delivery experiences after the COVID pandemic lockdown here – amar Jyoti tres spectra threesixtyone Tenali bagundi potbelly divine cafe lungta jamun
In a NUtshell
An OUT OF THE WORLD experience – food (heaven), everything else (hell) – meeting expectations, items promised in the menu missing, logistics, packaging. Lunch arrived at 3.30 pm!!! No expectation setting, no warnings, no proactive updates.
P.S. a week later we received a printed apology letter & a box of cupcakes (see end).
Address & other details: onam pronam
Meal for 2: ₹ 2600
Cuisine type : vegetarian
Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com
I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster
Short description- in case u r in a hurry
Our first onam sadya was at our friend Dilip Jayaram’s house in mumbai 5 years back. We were floored the the amazing food that we had that day. The standards were set just too high. We’ve had many more sadyas since then – some great, some good.
Kerala has a more plural religious mix than most other states of India – slightly more than 50% is the hindus & 45% is Muslims & Christians put together. Onam is a harvest festival (originally based on Hindu mythology) that is celebrated by people from all religions. Interestingly sadya is eaten during this festival by malayalis from all religions & the food is vegetarian for all.
Traditionally this multi dish meal is served on a banana leaf. There is a certain logic to which curry / item is served in which part of the banana leaf. A ripe small banana is also served along with the rice & Curries. Sadya has a sweet dish as well. We were told that most people eat the Curries / chutneys in a certain sequence.
We have been to many pop ups by food historian, journalist & food artist Pritha Sen & have always loved them. Each of her pop ups are unique & totally different from the past ones. We vividly remember food that we had a 7 years back, by Prima Kurien, at Dastkar haat, Delhi. She runs a catering business, serving some great Kerala food in Delhi NCR.
So when we heard about the collaboration by these two ladies for onam, we were super excited. The idea was to have onam sadya with Kerala dishes & bengali dishes that go with the theme.
When we read the social media post further, we got to know that the event is being organised by THE SOUL FOOD COMPANY. We had a slightly strange experience with them few weeks back. Nevertheless onam pronam seemed to be way more interesting, to avoid.
We paid the full amount for onam lunch (Sunday 30th August) in advance 6 days before the lunch. Payment options were google pay or bank transfer. The guy from SOUL FOOD told us that he will send details of delivery on Sunday.
On Sunday morning we checked. We were told that lunch will reach by 1.30 pm. At 1.05 pm, we were told that the lunch will arrive between 2-2.15 pm due to ‘extreme delay in kitchen’. When we connected with them at 2.20 pm, we were told ‘delivery guy got caught in rain. He will reach really soon’. The really soon of course did not happen. We thought at that point – Even the best in the hospitality industry make mistakes, but the best ones make up for it (I always admire TAJ hotels on this front).
We were thinking of calling friends to share the food. Thanking our luck that we did not do – else we wud have had to keep our guests waiting till 3.30!!!
The food came in a torn paper bag. Inside the bag were two kinds of paper/papier-mâché containers. The paper ones were un-sealed (2 of them were closed using cello tapes).
We were charged Rs.75 for delivery from delhi. Wud have happliy paid Rs. 200 – 300 for this food (if that wud have ensured a good delivery company) or even would have driven 50 km each side to eat this food / do self pick up. For people who pay Rs. 2600 for a vegetarian lunch, paying 10% on delivery would not have reduced orders I am sure.
SOUL FOOD company’s actions led to us getting FOUL MOOD on an otherwise lovely Sunday . Second time in a row!!!
The way I see it is SHIT HAPPENS. But what one does in such situation, (‘to set expectations’ / update / proactively communicate/ make it up / apologize etc) differentiates the serious long term players vs. the non serious/ inexperienced players. The guys in question here did not bother to do any such thing – it’s the worst thing to do, to keep people sitting & waiting for food. An intimation & expectation setting would have led to arranging alternative options.
The heavenly food made up for all the torture. We were speechless after eating the food.
Detailed description – in case u hv the time to njoy reading:
The choice of bengali dishes was stunning. It blended beautifully with the concept. For someone who did not know this was fusion, he/she might not have understood that this is a marriage of two different cuisines from two places 2400 km apart, with almost everything different but for the love for CPIM & literacy (Ha Ha).
All bengali Curries except malai curry were cooked without onion & garlic.
Teetar daal (daal with karela, this making it bitter – meaning teeta in bengali) – it was outstanding, the grains of daal cud be felt, grated coconut gave it texture, ginger made its presence felt – we just cud not stop raving about it. Rate it 4.75/5
Inji curry (Kerala) was made from ginger juliennes, tamarind & jaggery. It was neither too sweet nor too sour. Infact the ginger pieces, when chewed, tasted a bit bitter. Very different from the ones we have had before. Enjoyable. Rate it 3.5/5
Chenchki (Bengal) was made from stem of banana plant (called thore in bengali). This was mind blowing. Juicy, crunchy, minimally spiced. Flavors of methi made its presence felt. Grated coconut added texture & flavor. Absolutely stellar. Rate it 4.95/5
Sambhar (Kerala) was thick (maybe due to leakage as well). It hit the perfect spot when it came to the balance of taste & flavors. Absolutely loved the vegetables – they were able to retain their texture well. Rate it 4.75/5
Thoran (Kerala) was made with French beans, topped with grated coconut. This was good but we have surely had much better. The beans were crunchy, on the borderline of being sub optimally cooked. Rate it 3/5.
Morich jhol (Bengal) – I guess the thin gravy from this had leaked away too. What remained was a thick dry gravy that climbed to the vegetable – jhinga tori/ ridge gourd. The split yellow pea dumplings were daanedaar & absolutely wonderful. Loved it. Rate it 4.75/5
Theeyil (kerala) was whole shallots in thick gravy of roasted coconut, dhania & tamarind. This one was one of the few dishes which had more spices. The texture was grainy. The taste was a medley of sweet, sour & salt. Very enjoyable. Rate it 4.5/5
Chorchori (Bengal) – this is a melange of vegetables, bori (vadi/ lentil dumplings) & a saag. Pumpkin, gourd, brinjal etc were the veggies, pui shaak (Malabar spinach) was the saag. Spicing was apt. The vegetables retained their main texture, yet mixed beautifully with other vegetables. It was like the best of orchestra. Rate it 4.5/5
Pachidi (Kerala) – we did not receive.
Chhokka (Bengal) – pumpkin & Bengal gram curry. Slow cooked. Lovely texture. The Bengal grams & pumpkin had become soft, yet retained their texture. Methi flavor made its presence felt. Rate it 4.5/5
Okan (Kerala) – this was a curry of cow peas (a kind of lentil) & ashgourd. Two distinct textures. Two distinct mouthfeel. They came together very well. Rate it 4.5/5
Malai curry (Bengal) – this was bottle gourd cooked in coconut milk & with onions. This was very good on its own. Coconut milk flavor or texture did not make its presence felt. Never had this earlier. Always have tasted chingri malai curry (prawns) or evening crab. Rate it 3.5/5
Kootu (Kerala) – this was a dry curry of green banana & full moong dal, cooked in coconut oil. Fabulous. The robust flavors of curry leaf & coconut, the fantastic texture of both the main ingredients & the beyond perfect taste. Rate it 4.95/5
Rice (Kerala) was outstanding. Never had this as good outside Kerala. Perfectly cooked. Did not leave a grain of it. Rate it 4.95/5
Aumbole (Bengal) – we did not receive
Sambharam (Kerala) – this had a thin raita kind of base, with raw onions, ginger in it. Ginger made its presence felt.
Absolutely loved the jujube pickle (Bengal). Could not stop eating that. Sticky. Sweet & sour. Flavor of ginger. Perfect. Rate it 4.95/5
Til badam jhuri (Bengal) – very interesting, like podi. Loved having it with rice.
Payasam (Kerala) – did not receive.
Samandhi podi, mango pickle – did not receive.
Overall rating of food at this pop up averages out to 4.43/5
A phenomenal score for such a long menu.
Rating of the organisers – 0/5
Wud be wary to order again from SOUL FOOD, fearing FOUL MOOD. Hope they learn from their mistakes.
…. contd. a week later this came. The cupcakes were not needed. The effort & cost of the print was not needed. A simple SMS/WhatsApp would have done …..