New Bandra poutinerie offers french fries with unusual toppings

Enjoy French fries topped with vindaloo or toffee caramel sauce, thanks to Hakuna Batata, a new poutinerie that will serve unique versions of the Canadian poutine

The guide logoWe couldn't help but play Hakuna Matata — one of our childhood favourites — on loop, when we were told about Hakuna Batata, a few days ago. While the original Swahili phrase means no worries, its cool take-off is a Mumbai-based food start-up that makes its debut at food curating company, Small Fry Co’s food festival in the city, this weekend.

(From left) The Goan Vindaloo Poutine and The Toffee Poutine. pics/sharad vegda
(From left) The Goan Vindaloo Poutine and The Toffee Poutine. Pics/Sharad Vegda

The brainchild of two 26-year old entrepreneurs, Hanoz Shaher and Sirjan Singh Kochhar, Hakuna Batata is supposedly India’s first poutinerie, serving variations of the traditional Canadian fast food dish with origins in the French-Canadian region of Quebec. For the uninitiated, a poutine features French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. “In Mumbai, French fries are a side dish but we want to make them into a meal,” shares Kochhar, when we meet the duo at Shaher’s sprawling property in Jogeshwari’s quiet Parsi Colony. “We’re looking for a space to set up the poutinerie. As it’s self-funded, it needs to fit our budget,” confesses Shaher. Until then, you can grab Hakuna Batata’s fare at various food and music festivals including the upcoming NH7 Weekender (Pune).

Sirjan Singh Kochhar and Hanoz Shaher, co-founders, Hakuna Batata
Sirjan Singh Kochhar and Hanoz Shaher, co-founders, Hakuna Batata

What’s on the menu?
With two consultant chefs on board (Aditi Keni and Talib Hussain), the menu features seven types of gravies and in all, 11, once they open a permanent outpost. Priced between '150 and '250, it covers a wide range of flavours including The Canadian Classic Poutine with the traditional brown gravy made from chicken stock, The Desi Poutine with tikka masala as well as Asian Sweet N’ Spicy that’s infused with generic oriental flavours.

Cheese & Jalapeno and Il Pesto Poutine
Cheese & Jalapeno and (right) Il Pesto Poutine

We start with Cheese & Jalapeno ('150) that comes plated in a sturdy paper box with wholesome individual portions. A bite into the dish and we’re willing to ditch the assembly-line fries for these homemade ones. Seasoned with salt and pepper, these are thicker and crunchier from the outside, soft from the inside and without added preservatives. With the creamy sauce (sans any overbearing cheesiness, thankfully), chunks of cheese curd and the acerbic jalapenos, the dish is simple but tasty. Il Pesto Poutine ('200) that includes fries topped with a soothing green gravy, is high on basil but thankfully, the sour olives balance the bitterness.

Vindaloo fries, anyone?
A distinct smoke-tinged smell wafts from the kitchen and The Goan Vindaloo Poutine ('250) appears on our table next. Soft, melt-in-the-mouth chunks of pork, a gravy cooked to perfection with a strong smoky flavour and the same crunchy fries — we’re sold. By now, we’re craving for dessert; as if by telepathy, the owners serve us The Toffee Poutine ('225) — a bed of cinnamon-dunked sweet potato fries topped with pretty pink marshmallows and oodles of caramel toffee sauce. We dig in and are lost in the bliss of savoury and sweet. Surprisingly, sweet potato fries are crispier than the potato variant.

With its catchy name, this poutinerie is pocket-friendly and packs in unique flavours with its show-stealing fries. “You won’t find ketchup in Hakuna Batata,” says Shaher. We didn’t miss a sachet either.

On October 18, 12 pm to 10 pm
At World On My Plate, Corona Garden, Bandra (W).
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This was a preview, and hence, not anonymous.

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