HOME AND THE WORLD
India Today|November 08, 2021
BENGALI HOME CHEFS COOK UP A STORM AROUND INDIA
Sonal Shah

Durga Puja is an emotion for Bengalis,” says Arpita Roy, who runs The Lunchbox Co. in Mumbai. As Bijoya, the Bengali festive season, comes to a close with Kali Puja on November 4, this sentiment is just as true for those who live outside of Bengal—especially when it comes to celebratory food. As Hungry Cat Kitchen, a Mumbai home chef service posted on Instagram, “This Pujo, we sold nostalgia”.

The lockdowns and job losses of last year gave rise to a wave of home chefs, and Bengali cooks like Roy are at its crest, emerging as one of the most notable regional food trends in cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Some started out with Covid relief meals, others found enthusiastic, home-bound customers. Cooking, especially around the 2020 festive season, became an opportunity for many Bengalis outside the state to connect, through food, with larger communities. Under pandemic restrictions, many society pujos were restricted to members, pointed out Sumana Biswas, founder of Petuk Puraan in Bengaluru. She, like many other home chefs, spent their time cooking for others instead. Somma Ghosh of Kitchen Tales, Mumbai was a co-founder of a community pujo, but began a weekend meal delivery last year after cooking meals for migrant workers and staff in her complex.

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