Mumbai: Five eco-friendly ideas to serve in a kulhad

Updated: Jan 28, 2019, 09:19 IST | Shunashir Sen

After the Indian Railways brings back the kulhad at tea stalls in certain stations, we pick five eco-friendly serving ideas introduced by city restaurants

Mumbai: Five eco-friendly ideas to serve in a kulhad
Illustration/Ravi Jadhav

If you ask someone from Kolkata what a "cutting chai" is, chances are that you'll be met with a blank stare. For, Bengalis do love tea — which they drink in copious quantities — but prefer it served in a "bhaar", or kulhad, as clay pots are called elsewhere in the country. And that's the way the beverage was served in railway stations across India, too, till outlets switched en masse to tiny plastic cups 15 years ago.

But now, Indian Railway has decided to reintroduce kulhads for serving tea at certain stations in UP. It's a welcome move, considering how clay pots are a lot more eco-friendly than plastic, and don't pose as many health hazards either. What's more, they lend an earthy essence to the drink and help promote local craftspeople. But why should it stop at railway stations and at kulhads? Why can't biodegradable serving material be made more of a norm in city restaurants too? Some have already introduced it for certain items. For instance, they have innovated with plates made out of bamboo leaves, and straws made out of pasta. Here's our pick of some of the coolest eco-friendly ideas across city eateries and watering holes that have taken a leaf from the same book.

Bowled over

Pic/Ashish Raje

When guests sit down for a meal at The Bombay Canteen, their dining experience begins with chintus, or small chakna-like snacks that are passed around so that guests can choose what they want to munch on with their drinks. These are placed in pattal bowls made out of the leaves of wildly growing plants like sal, and jackfruit. "What is great about pattal leaves is that they are biodegradale and environment-friendly. They have been used since ancient times, and continue to be in large parts of rural India. And we thought it would be a wonderful nostalgic nod to our roots," says chef-partner Thomas Zacharias of the eatery in Lower Parel.

TIME 12 pm to 1 am
AT Ground floor, Process House, Kamala Mills Compound, Lower Parel.
CALL 49666666

The last straw


You have heard of paper straws. You have heard of metal straws. Of course, you've heard about plastic straws. But have you ever heard of a pasta straw? If no, then head to CinCin where drinks are served with just that in them. "We gave up plastic straws a while ago and then found that paper straws get soggy too quickly. So we hit upon the idea of pasta straws because who doesn't love pasta?" says Karyna Bajaj, owner of the BKC eatery.


ON 12 pm to 1 am
AT Ground floor, Raheja Towers, Bandra Kurla Complex.
CALL 61378070

Play with clay


If you ask for a strawberry phirni at The Culture House, the dessert will arrive served in a clay bowl. "These are inherently hygienic, considering they are made in a firing kiln, a type of oven with a certain temperature that is used to harden or dry clay objects. That's why we decided to use them, keeping the health benefits in mind," says chef Paras Menariya.

ON 11 am to 12.30 am
AT Soni Building, opposite Bharati Vidya Bhavan, Girgaum 
CALL 30151598

Going bananas


Steaming fish in a banana leaf is a common practice across South Asia. But it's not that common for a high-end restaurant to serve a grilled fish wrapped in the same substance. But that's what Chef Raju Thapa does at Pa Pa Ya with his Penang-style grilled snapper with dehydrated coriander. And talking of Bengalis again, they would give this a thumbs-up given how much they gorge on maachher paturi, a dish in which fish is steamed and served in the same leaf.


TIME 12 pm to 11.45 pm AT Level 3, Palladium Mall, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel.
CALL 8828031900

Keeping with tradition


Tiramisu is a classic Italian dessert. But the chances of finding a version there that's served in a clay bowl are next to nothing. You will get one at The Market Project, though. For, as Chef Vicky Ratnani says, "The idea to serve it in a kulhad bowl was inspired by the way phirni is served on Mohammed Ali Road or in any Bohri sweet shop. We wanted to keep it as traditional as possible."


ON 12 pm to 1 am
AT Shop 46, ground floor, Phoenix Marketcity, Kurla.

CALL 40897500

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