Mamma mia

Updated: May 23, 2020, 08:28 IST | Phorum Dalal | Mumbai

At 67, Pratibha Kanoi realises her 40-year-old dream with Mommy's Kitchen that is now delivering pizzas and pasta across the city

Mommy's special pizza
Mommy's special pizza

When lockdown 3.0 began, citizens were done with the craze of making banana bread. The symptoms of frustration began to set in, and cravings for ordering food started to show.

Lokhandwala resident Pratibha Kanoi was posed with an interesting question by her two sons — to start a home delivery kitchen. This, they knew, had been her dream for 40 years. "I said yes without batting an eyelid," she tells us excitedly. "It made sense because people wanted to eat out but couldn't. If they knew it was coming from the safety of a home kitchen, they would be happy to order," says the 67-year-old.

Within a couple of days her sons had the packaging and prints ready. Known for its vegetarian pizzas and pastas, the Mommy's Kitchen menu offers 11 x 11 thin crust pizzas. There's margherita with fresh tomato purée, mommy's special which comes loaded with jalapeños, cottage cheese, onions and mushroom and even a diet pizza with cheese and topped with veggies. The pasta section offers three options — an aglio olio, arrabiata or cheesy spaghetti.

With the deli idea on track, they put their second kitchen, equipped with professional standard facility, to use. Kanoi started taking orders on May 2, and since then, her scheduled is fixed. She wakes up at 8 am and is in her kitchen by 9.15 am where two cooks help with the mise en place. "But I knead the dough and monitor the sauces. We have been dishing out 25 to 30 pizza orders a day, accompanied by pastas," says Kanoi. All the boxes and packaging, as well as the vegetables for prep, are placed in the sun for eight to 12 hours. "We then soak them in vinegar before cooking," she shares. Gloves and caps are a must in her kitchen.

Arrabiata spaghetti
Arrabiata spaghetti

Kanoi's back story is rather interesting. She was born in Myanmar in 1953. When the country fell under military rule in 1962, her family moved to Bangkok. "While growing up, I would see people eat 16-inch pizzas, and that is a memory that stayed with me. In Class 6, we moved to Kolkata, where I picked up the art of Indian cuisine. I didn't do much of cooking. We were five sisters and my eldest sister was in-charge of the kitchen. One day, she complained that she wasn't going to do everything, and I was assigned the job of making rotis," recalls Kanoi who later arrived in Mumbai where she met her husband, a diamond merchant.

"He was a foodie and the first gift he ever gave me was an oven. It was double the size of a washing machine bought at an auction back then. We enjoyed cooking together, too," says Kanoi.

Our order of margherita (R425) and mommy's special pizzas (R555) along with arrabbiata spaghetti (R425) is delivered by the family's chauffeur in their car. On our WhatsApp, we received instructions of re-heating the pizza. Still warm, we're hungry and dig right in. The edges of the thin crust base are delicious. The crispy outer part and the airy, bready bite inside is a culinary feat. The sauce has a sweet and tangy finish and we love the garlic oil with pieces that come with each of the pizzas. We slather it on our slice, and it elevates the taste. The veggie toppings on mommy's special are crunchy, and each bite is wholesome. A sucker for spaghetti, we find the sauce is fresh and generous in each slurp. "I didn't need to start anything at this age. We have a maharaj [cook] at home and I have no responsibilities. I could just sit around and watch television. Log sochenge mein pagal hoon [people will think I have lost it]. But this is my passion, and age is no bar. I want to set an example for all senior citizens. Take care of your health and live life to the fullest," she tells us confidently.

Call 8169595629 to order (preferably placed a day in advance)

Pratibha's cooking tips

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  • Yeast should be of good quality. Check the expiry date and if it is too watery, it is a sign that the quality has dipped.
  • Proof your dough for two hours before you roll it out.
  • To keep your toppings crisp, roast them in the oven and ensure that they aren't over-cooked.

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