The food scene in India continues to evolve as new trends and ideas emerge. Buzz words like convenience, food ordering app and takeaway are changing the culinary landscape of India and giving rise to restaurants in cloud where innovation reigns and world cuisine is just a take-out call away. Here are three such new concepts spurred to growth by a new generation of customers weaned on social media and increasingly interested in global flavours.
Founders: Saurabh Saxena and Anil Gelra
Launched in September 2014 by two IITians Holachef is a Mumbai based restaurant in cloud that connects professional and home chefs in the city with foodies through an online ordering service. One can place the order through their mobile app (Android and iOS) or the website, holachef.com. The food is packed and served in reusable and recyclable material; accompanied with biodegradable cutlery and delivered at home.
Holachef offers a choice of around 50 dishes everyday with each meal priced at Rs 120- 350 and serves one person. The spread caters to many palates – from Mexican to Middle-Eastern and from Kashmiri to Chettinad.
The company primarily works with professional chefs with experience in a certain cuisine and flair to come up with innovative dishes since the menu changes each day. There are also a few home-chefs on board who have found a platform in holachef to reach out to a wider audience through their cooking. Chefs on-board come with FSSAI₁ License to operate as Food Business Operator (FBO) and are provided HACCP₂ Training at Holachef. Segregation of food and raw materials is done in FIFO (First In First Out) and FEFO (First Expire First Out) order. Holachef uses temperature control equipment to keep food hot or cold while in transit. “Interestingly, customers have started identifying dishes based on the chefs. Their decision making often depends on which chef is serving instead of what is being served,” says Saxena who sees 60 per cent repeat orders and is servicing over 32 locations in Mumbai across Western and Central suburbs.
The start-up has secured Rs 20 crore (about $3.1 million) in a Series A round of funding led by venture capital firm Kalaari Capital. “The investments will help us fuel our infrastructural expansions that will enable better preparation and delivery of food. This will help us penetrate deeper into Mumbai as well as other cities in India,” adds Saxena. Holachef had earlier raised about Rs 2 crore from Anand Lunia-led seed-stage fund India Quotient in February this year in the form of convertible notes, which refers to short term debt that converts to equity when a startup raises Series A funding.
At present, the start-up claims that it is serving 1,000 orders a day across locations in Central and Western suburbs of Mumbai, and receives about 65 per cent of its total orders through the mobile app on Android and iPhone, while the rest comes via its website. It does not have any physical presence yet.
Out of the Box
Founders: Husband and wife duo Kapil and Reshma Sanghi (owners of the Food for Thought cafe at Fort, Mumbai)
Launched in March 2015 OOTB delivers pre-measured meal kit with fresh ingredients and instructions on how to prepare it. The process is pretty simple; all you have to do is log onto the website www.ootbox.in and pick a dish from the menu. OOTB will prepare a box of pre-measured ingredients and deliver them to you with recipe cards that have step-by-step instructions and images. All that’s left to do is unearth the chef inside of you and enjoy a gourmet meal at home.
The idea of a meal kit came to Reshmi who conducts cooking classes. After every class the students would want to try making the dishes on their own at home but found it difficult to source the ingredients in their neighbourhood. So Reshma started preparing pre-measured ingredient boxes of the recipes. Seeing a flood of requests for such ingredient boxes convinced Reshma to launch it as a business venture.
The OOTB menu features a wide spectrum of time-honored classics like Mixed Mushroom, Leek and Rosemary Risotto, Wasabi Salad with Pickled Ginger, Soba Noodle Bowl, and more. “Our motto is “keep it simple”. Complexities often intimidate and discourage home cooks. Hence, we lay great stress on easy, comfort food with a spin on traditional recipes,” say Reshma. Each recipe box is priced at Rs 300 and serves two people.
Currently, the duo operates out of their café at Fort, Mumbai and is in the process of setting up a central kitchen as the volume of business has increased significantly. The biggest challenge for the couple is to maintain freshness of the ingredients. “That is the reason currently we are only delivering from Colaba to Bandra in Mumbai. Getting ahead of ourselves is not going to be beneficial to our customers who expect the highest quality from us.”
Founder: Dhairya Trivedi and Chirag Arya
Instakhana puts a refreshing twist on food delivery with a 20 minute delivery promise. When an order is placed though their website www.instakhaana.com it goes to the driver of the particular area in the form of an SMS mentioning the delivery address, order details, time slot and the amount. The driver accepts the order and the food reaches the customer in twenty minutes in Tata Nano food vans. The customer receives a call from the driver five minutes before the order is expected to arrive. It is a seamless process right from the time the customer places the order to the final delivery.
Although the menu holds continental and European dishes the demand is clearly tilted in favour of Indian food. “People may like to experiment with international cuisine but give them a Butter Chicken or Paneer Makhani and they will lap it up every single day of the week,” says Co founder Dhariya Trivedi. Each day’s menu consist of two vegetarian and two non-vegetarian dishes with a salad, soft beverage and dessert. Most of the dishes are priced between Rs 80 and 170. One can choose from interesting options like Grilled Fish with Garlic and Spring Onion, Mushroom & Tofu in Paprika Sauce, Dhanwal Style Chicken Korma as well as Bulgur Salad with Corn and Scallons.
Launched in April 2015 Instakhaana operates out of a central kitchen in Mahalakshmi, Mumbai. Delivery boys stationed at strategic locations within an area, take no more than twenty minutes to execute the order once it is placed. The company works with a highly specialized backend system which lists out all orders sequentially with the delivery time slot to ensure easier and faster delivery. The biggest challenge according to Trivedi is to ensure consistency in food and delivery timelines. “If a customer has tasted Paneer Makhani once and has liked it, every single time he orders that dish the same taste should be replicated.”
InstaKhaana currently operates in Bandra Kurla Complex, Lower Parel, Mahalaxmi, Worli and Prabhadevi in Mumbai. The next locations on the anvil are Bandra, Powai and Lokhandwala. They aspire to deliver to at least 20 areas in Mumbai over the next three months. “There is a huge captive market waiting to be tapped and the vision is to reach a point where people think food and think Instakhaana,” says Trivedi.