Food: Mumbai's metalheads rustle up burgers and bacon

Between percussions and guitar riffs, three Mumbai musicians find time to explore burgers and bacon. Phorum Dalal meets them in the kitchen

Living the burger dream
Our conversation with Jimmy Bhore, the lead singer of the thrash/groove metal band Zygnema, is interrupted at least three times within half an hour. But Bhore, who otherwise urges you to free yourself of the bindings imposed on you, is quite happy to respond to these calls.

Singer Jimmy Bhore outside Jimis Burgers, which he launched in Malad West eight months ago. Pic/Shadab Khan

Standing outside his eight-month-old Malad burger joint, Jimis Burgers, Bhore cuts a quiet, gentle vision — quite unlike his stage avatar.

Stepping inside, we see nine college students getting ready to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Soft rock notes fill the air, mingling with the aroma of caramelised onions and French fries. Bhore may have just achieved nirvana with the marriage of two passions — music and burgers.

But music came first.

He picked up the guitar at 15, auditioned for a lead singer’s position for a band on a friend’s recommendation. "As a teenager, I wanted to be a rockstar. I later tied up with Shezan of the band Providence. We did a few shows and split, but few months later, I met Siddharth [Kakadi, lead guitarist of Zygnema]. He wanted a vocalist and that’s how my journey began," says the 29-year-old.

By 2008-09, the four-member band had found its groove among the city’s young crowd. "We would get over 30 shows per year," he adds. However, shows aren’t enough to put the bread on the table. Bhore juggled various corporate jobs but his heart lay in crafting burgers. In 2012, he moved to Sangli where his family hails from.

"I am a burger fanatic, and since college, I wanted to start a burger joint. Even on our music tours, while other members would eat all kinds of food, I would opt for a burger. Sangli has a large student population, and I set up a burger cart there," says Bhore.

He returned to Mumbai in less than a year. "I had learnt what was needed to run a food business. Back in Mumbai, I started taking home orders and, eight months ago, opened this place," says the Goregaon-resident.

The 225-square-feet joint, which also houses the kitchen, sees a daily sale of 120 burgers, with numbers going up on weekends. Bhore, who calls himself an experimental cook, says, "For me, every dish is a song, and balance of flavours like the union of instruments, voices and percussions. A great burger should emerge like a favourite tune," says Bhore, who has requested his band mates to shift practice to mornings.

With their anniversary gig coming up at Hard Rock Café on June 26, Bhore will have to juggle jamming and kitchen chores.

"I design a recipe the way I arrange a song — a melody comes to my mind, and I try different variations with it. For example, it took me a long time to perfect the Classic Barbeque Burger, which has a chicken patty, lettuce tomato, house mayo, a slice of cheese and caramelised onions."

During a tour of Germany in 2012, he bit into the Currywurst in Berlin. That, he says, defined his idea of the perfect burger. "It had a spicy sauce, and inspired by it, I created something similar, though it didn’t make it to the menu. It has, however, influenced our hot sauce."

The bacon king
The Arabian Sea from Sahil Makhija’s beach-facing home in Juhu looks like a sheet of varq. The metal head faces a computer, the curtain pulled to keep the afternoon sun out.

Sahil Makhija cooks a baconised version of the shakshouka.  pic/nimesh dave
Sahil Makhija cooks a baconised version of the shakshouka.  Pic/Nimesh Dave

Military-print shorts and his long tresses tied in a pony tail, Makhija discovered his two passions — music and food — at 14. For the past three months, he has been on the Keto diet, which allows him a high fat foods with moderate protein, low carbs and no sugar. "This sends the body into ketosis. So, instead of breaking down glucose for energy, it breaks down fat."
Today, Makhija has decided to make a bacon shakshouka, with mushrooms and eggs. He goes about the kitchen effortlessly, while taking about his first love, music.

"My music is extreme metal, and it is the kind of music that inspires you to play. With only a few guitar lessons from a bad teacher, I started writing and recording my music after a friend taught me how." In 2000, Makhija launched his five- member band, Demonic Resurrection. He is also a member of Reptilian Death, a death metal band, where he plays the drums, and a comedy rock band called Workshop.

By now, Makhija has sautéed the bacon chunks in a black cast iron pan, and mushrooms and tomato sauce. He sprinkles his garnishes and puts the lid on.

"My grandfather was a hunter and he prepared game meat. My memories of food surround my grandmother’s aloo touks and scrambled eggs on toast. But I think I get my food intuition from my granddad," adds the 33-year-old, who dropped out of FYBCom, to take to music.

Five years ago, he found an approximity to club his passions with a YouTube channel. "The initial idea was to cook for bands and interview them," says Makhija, who took to posting pictures of his creations on Facebook. Today, he receives orders on social media.

Makhija neatly creates three pockets and slips in eggs to poach. On this he grates a thick layer of cheese, and garnishes it with coriander.

"My first interview was with a band called Nervecell and they had a song called Demean. So I created a Demean burger for them. When I interviewed Bhayanak Maut, I created a dish that till date continues to get me  orders — the Bhayanak Bacon bomb," says Makhija, who crowd-funded the third season, after which he stuck to showcasing recipes alone.

"I had started a project called Bacon Tadka where I attempted to baconise Indian foods," says Makhija, who does both these as time permits it.

On order
His famous creations are Bacon Bombs which include pork mince, seasoned and laid out, stuffed with cheese, peppers, onions and crispy bacon. This is rolled up and covered in bacon and barbeque sauce and baked. "I also make a bacon cake, which is the bacon bomb in the shape of a cake, and is stuffed with cheese and orange marmalade," he adds.  Makhija charges R800 for half kg. The cake starts at R1,000 for half kg. "I also do burgers, bacon jams and hummus," he says, cutting us a serving of the bacon shakshouka. A bite in, we understand what the fuss is about.

He rules between breads

Studio owner Caleib Veigas serves up a grilled chicken sandwich for a customer at Maakapow  in Khar.  Pic/Satej Shinde
Studio owner Caleib Veigas serves up a grilled chicken sandwich for a customer at Maakapow in Khar.  Pic/Satej Shinde

To enter The Jamroom in Chuim village, you must pass through the kitchen of Maakapow, a food delivery venture that musician and studio owner Caleib Veigas started with partner Keshav Kaul six months ago. The Jamroom, frequented by bands for their jam session, often sees a hungry lot. "People who come here have no time to eat, and practice goes on for hours. I would whip up some food, like burgers and sandwiches, and musicians devoured it. After a month’s testing round, we launched Maakapow last November," says the Veigas, whose menu has fusion burgers with Japanese and French sauces with a heavy Korean influence. 

Veigas comes from a family of musicians. His grandfather Van Shipley was a song writer for Sholay and wrote most of RD Burman tracks. Asked for a demo, he takes a seat on a wooden stool, plugs in his acoustic and strums away. "I play metal, jazz and since bass is like a percussion, one can flow into any genre," says 26-year-old bass player.

It was only five years ago that he learned to boil an egg. "I got inspired by watching videos on YouTube, and visiting kitchens. Food, like music, takes passion to create," says Veigas, who is currently part of a band, Charan. "It is a Hindi band, and I am always looking to collaborate," he adds.

Music, says Veigas, calms the mind. "Each genre takes you on a different trip," he says, playing an easy jazz tune, pepping it with a slap pop and flowing into a bold metal thump. "Keshav and I jam every day. It is a great stress buster after chaotic kitchen service." Their top-selling burger is the Hangover which is packed with meat. "Vegetarians are fussy. Finally, I created a mac and cheese one for them," he adds.

While Veigas is taking his time before setting up Maakapow outlets, he launches a music school this month. "We will offer guitar and drums lessons to children aged five and above at Temperance studio, in Bandra.  I have the best of both worlds here. When I’m in the kitchen, I get to listen to bands practice. The aroma drives them crazy."

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