Flavours from Chettinad
A homemaker, who's soon to launch a food service after a five-year-long sabbatical, joins hands with a diner in Vashi for a pop-up
A few months before the birth of her second child in 2008, Kalpana Mudliar, a corporate professional at the time, quit her job. Two years later, she started a pre-school in Vashi, which she helmed until 2014. It was during this sabbatical that she began pursuing her all-time love for food more seriously, she shares, as she readies to launch her catering and foodservice, Vanakkam Mumbai, in September.
But her acquaintance with chef Raunak Gyani, also a managing partner at Soy Street, an Asian diner in Vashi, led to collaboration so speedily that Mudliar, interestingly, is doing her first pop-up, even before her company is registered. "People have come and enjoyed the food so much that they want to return with their friends and family. It was supposed to end this Wednesday, but now, we're extending it till next Sunday," Gyani says about the ongoing Vanakkam pop-up at his establishment. But why is an Asian diner serving South Indian fare?
Coconut and cabbage poriyal
"I have seen people in Navi Mumbai travel great distances for good food because the options here are few. So, we were confident that diners would be excited about something new, even if it was a departure from Asian cuisines," he explains, adding that when he started doing recipe trials with Mudliar, it was easy for them to connect. "She's serious about her work and has a lot of knowledge about food from that region, so I got to learn a lot," he adds.
The pop-up features vegetarian, chicken, mutton and fish thalis instead of an à la carte menu, in a bid to encourage patrons to try dishes such as a carrot and cabbage poriyal, a coconut-y stir fry of veggies; vegetable kurma comprising a mix of different greens in a creamy coconut and cashew gravy; and lesser-known treats like, enna katrikai, a brinjal kulambu or tamarind-based gravy, and an egg roast, that seems to be a hit.
"I have sourced masalas from the Karaikudi region to make sure that the food is authentic. It is very dear to me, and though I have only covered Chettinad food this time, I hope to cover other regions, like Tanjore, too. That was the main objective behind this pop-up — to acquaint Mumbaikars with the culinary diversity within the cuisines of Tamil Nadu," she signs off.
Raunak Gyani and Kalpana Mudliar
At Soy Street, Sector 30A, Vashi, Navi Mumbai.
Till August 4, 7 pm to 10.30 pm
Cost Rs 499 to Rs 599
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