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The food of the basketvilles

When three gourmands, constantly surrounded by talk and tastes of grub, decide to work together you can be sure the results will be food-ful. Case in point: Chetna Chakravarthy, Tanya Siquiera and Shirin Mehrotra’s The Basket Case.

Every month, the trio accepts orders through email, Facebook or Twitter. Orders for year-end hampers, which also contain a jar of Parsi ready curry mix from Perzen Patel aka the Bawi Bride, are on until the last week of December. "The chefs and bakers are given a week to furnish the orders, and the baskets are then personally hand-delivered or sent through friends,” explains Chakravarthy, who is trying to get a courier service on board to make deliveries an easier process.

The trio is extremely particular about choosing what goes into their monthly basket, which they retail at R1,000. “We only pick foods we’d relish ourselves, and also enjoy gifting just as much,” says Chakravarthy. But the idea is also to get both chefs as well as foodies to experiment with their food, she adds, offering the example of Amrita Rana’s jar of bacon jam. “A lot of people might make hummus, jams and chutneys, but we look out for interesting combinations and ingredients. So last month we included Shivangi Tolia’s cilantro and jalapeno hummus, Rebecca Vaz’s Bhuira jams, Tanya’s vegan peanut butter and Perzen Patel’s sundried tomato and ricotta dip,” she says.

“When I suggested we create hampers showcasing the city’s best home chefs they jumped on board,” says Chakravarthy of her colleagues, both of whom are passionate about cooking. In October, thanks to a Twitter post she uploaded, Chakravarthy was ready with a list of contact numbers of chefs eager to contribute and the first set of hampers was sent out the very next month. “We showcased seven chefs this month, and in December we are working with an eighth home chef,” reveals Chakravarthy, who promises to include a minimum of five items each month.

Mehrotra, who has been running a food and travel blog for about two years, began retailing the goodies she produces in her kitchen just two months ago.

“My brand Food Chants was born with The Basket Case,” reveals the home chef, who is constantly experimenting with recipes she comes across on the Web, and takes refuge in her kitchen every chance she gets. The November hampers included her jars of apple cinnamon jam, while December will get a dose of her flourless chocolate orange cake with cream cheese frosting — all in a jar. This month is going to be exceptionally busy for the trio. Starting with this weekend’s Indo-German Fair at the Mahalaxmi Race Course, The Basket Case will be spotted at multiple exhibitions through the month. “We are compiling a number of special gift hampers, starting from R300. One of our special hampers is for children in particular — it contains hot chocolate pops, strawberry butter and brownie crinkle cookies,” says Chakravarthy, who is hoping to be able to showcase their hampers at the Christmas markets at Bandra Gymkhana and Santacruz’s Willingdon Gymkhana.

“Our aim is to bring out the city’s hidden culinary talents,” she says. While many of the chefs onboard at the moment were already retailing their products individually, the idea is to encourage closet cooks to share their goodies with the city too. “What makes it a win-win is that the hampers contain the contact details for chefs. So if you like a product you can quite easily order more,” says Chakravarthy.

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