Mumbai Food: Inter-caste couple serve grilled food with love in Navi Mumbai
A couple serving grilled eats and a lesson in inter-caste romance is setting Navi Mumbai residents' tongues on fire with their bike-cum-tandoor
She giggles coquettishly, locking her little finger with her husband's. A plume of smoke rises behind and she scuttles back to the grill to fan the kindling tinder underneath a skewer of fresh pineapples marinated in Kashmiri mirch powder, salt, pepper and chaat masala. Basavaraj, her husband, steals loving glances at Amruta while telling us, "I couldn't have done anything without her." She giggles again. We are in the verdant parts of Navi Mumbai's Palm Beach Road where the couple has planted their ambitious venture — a bike fitted with a mobile barbecue that they now call Charcoal Grill: Kebabs on Bike.
Basavaraj Mallapa Kabure, 32, and Amruta Basavaraj Kabure, 31, met in 2008. "He sent me a friend request on Orkut," Amruta recalls. Both architects by day, their touching love story began with helping each other with assignments. "We were really good friends and our parents were aware of it. I don't even think we have said 'I love you' to each other yet. Our families got the inkling that something was going on and they asked us to get married," Amruta shares.
But what had been a smooth ride before marriage hit a rocky terrain after they tied the knot. "Actually, I am a Hindu Maratha and he is a Lingayat Brahmin," she tells us as the unspoken words, inter-caste marriage, hang heavy in the air already corpulent with the smoke from the tandoor.
"Our parents never said anything upfront and they are supportive, but you know how it is. Relatives bolte rehte hai," Basavaraj offers to explain, speaking about how soon after marriage, they were handed over responsibilities. A post-modern agni pariksha of sorts.
So, they started an architectural firm. Even so, for Amruta and Basavaraj, their passions lay in travel, camping, going for biking rallies and food. Which they managed to find time for, in between running their firm and helping with Basavraj's family business in earthworks.
"Whenever we went camping from Kolhapur to Kanyakumari, or to Murudeshwar or Goa, we used to argue about who would carry what. So, initially, I attached a sidecar to make lugging things easier. Then, I developed it into a grill with the help of welders. We began using it at camps and I'd usually be at the barbecue since I was the in-house chef for all get-togethers. My mother taught me how to cook at a young age and I always enjoyed it," he tells us.
Amruta and Basavaraj Kabure work the grill. Pics/Datta Kumbhar
In 2015, when they moved to Navi Mumbai, in the hope of a fresh start, Basavaraj revealed his plans for a food venture to Amruta. "She has supported me at every step," he says. Finally, in July this year, they turned their camping delight into a business. And since, the two have been serving delicious and affordable eats like fiery chicken drumsticks (Rs 130), refreshing chicken pahadi kebabs (Rs 120) coated in coriander chutney, Kolhapuri-masala-smeared grilled pomfret (Rs 180) and prawns (Rs 150), and tangy grilled paneer (Rs 100) that Basavraj often tweaks by throwing in a few pieces of charred pineapples.
This entails waking up hours before work to prepare the food, which includes making the marinade and procuring fresh ingredients. Considering they serve a set amount each day for two hours only, it calls for a great deal of juggling between office, home and their unique endeavour. So, what is it that keeps this overworked couple alive? The answer is love.
Time 8.30 pm to 10.30 pm
At Near Taxi Stand, Sector 58, Navi Mumbai (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday); Akshar Chowk, Palm Beach Road (Friday, Saturday, Sunday).
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