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How these Mumbai chefs source rare ingredients for their cuisines

Silkworm pupae from Assam,  Gondhoraj from Kolkata and Kombu, all the way from Japan. As city-based home chefs source ingredients from diverse locations across India and the globe to add authenticity to their pop-ups, we hit the food trail

Gitika’s PakGhor

Fiddlehead ferns
Fiddlehead ferns

Cuisine: Axomiya (Assamese)
In stock: Red ant eggs, silkworm pupae, pigeon meat, goose meat, bamboo shoot (fresh blossom, fermented, dried and smoked) used to cook pork, chicken etc, dhekia (fiddlehead fern) used in a variety of dishes, guti alu (red baby potatoes), Joha saul (flavoured rice), black sesame, etc.

Gitika Saikia
Gitika Saikia

Trail track: Assam and a majority are from Saikia’s own garden. “These are either couriered by my mother-in-law (Tezpur in Central Assam) or my mother (Naharkatia in Upper Assam). For an earlier pop-up lunch, one of my friend’s mother also couriered Axone (fermented soybean) and Anishi (dry yam leaves) for the Naga recipes and Ngari (fermented Manipuri fish) to make Eromba, a Manipuri chutney all the way from Kohima (Nagaland) and Imphal (Manipur). I also use Arunachali herbs in my dishes,” she says.
Mumbai markets: Saikia visits the Four Bungalows market for fresh catch of fish, pork, chicken and a few greens.

Grandma Mookerjee’s pop-up

Margarita made from Gondhoraj lime
Margarita made from Gondhoraj lime

Cuisine: Bengali
In stock: Jharna Ghee is used to cook all meat and rice-based dishes. Gobindo Bhog, a special kind of rice, jaggery (Patali or Nolen, depending on the season) as well as Gondhoraj lemons used to make special margaritas.
Trail track: According to the host, Auroni Mookerjee, the ghee, Gobindo Bhog, Gondhoraj (packaged and flown down via overnight courier) and the jaggery are ordered from Kolkata. “The Nolen Gur, a fresher liquid version of the date palm jaggery, is available only for the winter months of December to February, while the Gondhoraj lime is available through the summer and monsoon months. We also have a few suppliers in Delhi and Goa that help us with good quality pork,” he adds.

Auroni Mookerjee
Auroni Mookerjee 

Mumbai markets: Fish.
On: Weekends (July and August)
At: Uzo Bar & Kitchen, Worli.
Call: 9920663306
Email: grandmamookerjee@gmail.com (for personal dinner query)

Poppadum

In stock: Cinnamon, cardamom, pepper and other spices
Trail track: “We use many whole spices in our stews and I order them from Spice Board India in Kerala as well as a producer in Chennai. I often travel that side, so I end up stocking most of them,” says Sneha Nair, who hosts these pop-ups.
Mumbai markets: “A store in Matunga helps me find everything else I need for the food,” she adds.
On: July 4, 10 am onwards
At: Bandra (E).
Log on to: www.trekurious.com

Rebecca Ranee

Rebecca Ranee. Pic/Nimesh Dave
Rebecca Ranee. Pic/Nimesh Dave

Cuisine: Khasi (Meghalaya)
In stock: Dohthad sniang (smoked pork), jaiur (sichuan pepper), tungtap (fermented fish), sohsaw (organic garden fresh tomatoes), sonmynken synteng (local chillies) used for pickles, sohmarit (pepper), kwai (areca nut and betel nut leaves), khaw khasi (hill rice), sohmynken dung (chilli flakes) and ktung shira (dry fish).
Trail track: “I source most of my basic ingredients from Shillong through friends and family who happen to be visiting Mumbai. Previously, I was able to serve an extra salad dish with a seasonal herb called Jamardoh (Camelion leaves) native to Meghalaya. For my next pop-up, I will be serving the traditional rice (hill rice) which is grown in the state on hill slopes under shifting cultivation and is rainfed,” says Ranee.
Mumbai markets: Ranee’s local grocery list includes only chicken, potato, onion, tomato, ginger and garlic.
On: July 11, 1.30 pm
At: Phase D, Shastri Nagar, New Link Road, Versova, Andheri (W).
Cost: Rs 1,500
Log on to: www.trekurious.com

The Ramen Reverie

Ramen bowl
Ramen bowl

Cuisine: Japanese
In stock: Kombu (Kelp), Bonito Flakes (smoked and dried Tuna flakes), Nori (Seaweed), Matcha Powder and Akhuni (fermented soybean paste), among others.
Trail track: With help from his friends, Benpramar Laitflang sources ingredients from Japan, Singapore, Thailand as well as Shillong and Nagaland.

Benpramar Laitflang
Benpramar Laitflang

Mumbai Markets: Mushrooms and other greens from Bandra’s Pali Market.
On: July 5, 1.30 pm
At: Bandra (W).
Cost: Rs 1,600
Call: 9920473331

Dolly Singh

Litti Chokha
Litti Chokha

Cuisine: Bihari
In stock: Sattu for Litti Chokha, ghee, mustard seeds, moong dal, rice, dry chillies

Dolly Singh
Dolly Singh

Trail track: “I get Sattu from my hometown, Dhanbad, as it is still not available here. The ghee that I use is made by my mother (in Dhanbad) using the cream of the buffalo milk,” elaborates Singh.
Mumbai markets: Jackfruit from Dadar market for Jackfruit Curry.
Log on to: Facebook.com/homecafebandra

Also read...

Jingtah Dohthad, smoked pork based curry

Tuck into Khasi and Malwa specialties at these pop-up lunches. (Click here to read more)

Gitika Saikia

A glimpse of Meghalaya through its cuisine (Click here to read more)

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