Too late from work to go into the kitchen to fix dinner? Too tired to explore what to put on the menu day in and out? Too tardy to pick up groceries, clean and chop, grate and grind, blend and cook only to find that your dish was burnt or salty or bland?
If your answer is a “Yes” to any of these questions, then it’s about time to check out UG Dabbalicious’, a dabba service. True to its name Dabbalicious offers dabbas that are delicious. What better a combo than this one!
UG Dabbalicious (UGD) has been launched by Dr. Mithila Desai, a clinical psychologist and Mr. Utpal Gandhi, a practising interior designer. Both are self-confessed foodaholics who put their passion for food to the test in the form of UGD. They have aspired to give their venture a ‘homemade‘ touch in exploiting the nuances of mommy’s cooking. So good is this unique selling point of packing in homemade food that they are all set to knock the standard dabbawallas off their perch.
As is characteristic of me, I prefer to break up a story in point form to make it easier to skim through and cause a lasting impression. So here are 8 ways by which UGD creates its signature dabbas. One that prides itself on its Fresh ingredients, Hygienic food and Quality of the highest order.
- TASTY MEALS
Personally speaking, I tend to shy away from dabba meals as most franchises are quite often profit-oriented with little empathy towards its customers. In commercial kitchens, gravies are thickened and ingredients not often fresh. However, UGD is anything but. I sampled some of its vegetarian options which are what I typically opt for when trying out new food. It takes a Special Touch to make vegetables delicious, no mean task this. Their dabba only goes to prove this fact.
The first trial dabba emerged with baingan ka bharta, bhindi-aloo, dal makhani, chawal, roti and ravoli. Ravoli is made from ‘Lapsi’, ‘Rava’, ‘Gud’ and Dry Fruits. Am sure there’s something that good food does to make you disregard loyalty. So it was in a jiffy that I crammed in all its contents with little thought about leaving some for my better half. I devoured everything but the tray with no qualms of marital devotion.
2. ORGANIC INGREDIENTS = HEALTHY DABBA
The finest feature of UGD lies in its use of organic ingredients in its meals. While almost every other service or eatery attempts to cut corners in this quarter, UGD strives to acquire natural ingredients. A “fresh” challenge in the present day when the increase in GST has made prices of ingredients grow steeper.
One of its chief organic ingredients is Coconut Milk, similar to that of Thai gravies. Their curries are cooked in various combinations of Garlic & Coconut Milk OR Ginger & Coconut Milk. They are subsequently tempered with dry ground spices and curry leaves. Get the whiff? Oh quite, even from afar!
Contrary to what you may have believed, coconut is now gaining significant thrust in its nutritional advantages. The great dietician-cum-author, Rujuta Diwekar, adds credence to the coconut theory. In fact, she discredits the hypothesis connecting coconut to poor health benefits. You may have long believed in coconut spiking up cholesterol levels but she assures that natural oils from coconut isn’t unhealthy. If you are judicious in using less refined oil and more coconut, the distribution is evened.
Jaggery is the second most ingredient employed in most of Dabbalicious‘ dishes. As you are aware, jaggery offers an excellent substitute for sugar without adding calories attributed to sugar intake. It is extracted from cane and palm without the chemicals used to refine white sugar. Apart from this, I love brown jaggery for its brown sugary taste. Reminds me of black treacle and caramel.
If organic isn’t enough, Dabbalicious offers Diet Meals as well. The choice is yours, to select a menu ranging from grilled/baked/sauteed to steamed. Even more, it promises High Protein, low-Carb and Gluten-free meals. Want to go on a healthy green spree, then salads are the way to go. Not lagging far behind are their Multi-grain Rotis, Brown Rice, Grilled Chicken, Paneer, Tofu and Vegetables. Now, who says dabbas are boring?
3. TRADITIONAL & AUTHENTIC
Do you have memories of granny’s lip-smacking age-old recipes? If you do, well you must have been one happy grandchild. If you didn’t pack in school lunches as a child, I would sympathise with you. In all probability, you may have dipped into fellow students’ dabbas if you didn’t carry your own ‘ghar ka khana‘.
If you don’t have any memories for whatever reasons, Dabbalicious will help you in a total recall of your childhood school lunches packed by aai or aaji.
One such granny’s dish, a non-vegetarian one, is their quintessential prawn curry. Combined well with raw mangoes when in season. When not, they supplement it with ‘amboshi‘ (dried aam) which is bagged from local stores. In fact, they make it a point to cook their meals with Seasonal Ingredients most of the time.
Have you heard of pineapple used in curries? I bet you haven’t. Nor have I, until I bumped into Dabbalicious that is. Is it a fruity curry or a curried fruit? Well, fresh pineapple lends a bit of both, fruity sweetness and lemony sour. A toss of tamarind and jaggery only heightens this taste of sweet and sour. Bet you can’t wait until you try this one.
Their preparation style is mostly influenced by Maharashtrian cooking. Hence the use of val in most of their dishes which kind of pair well with rotis or rice.
Most coastal cuisines combine veggies with prawns, the common vegetables being radish, pumpkin and turnip. The latter falls among their signature dishes.
As far as vegetable preparations go, cauliflower and cabbage are one of their hot-selling vegetable combinations.
As for chicken dishes, red gravies are less common because Dabbalicious prefers to avoid the use of heavy spices as they aren’t known to be associated with good health. Pure spices like pepper and cinnamon are more frequently used. One of their popular dishes applies a Goan recipe of ginger-cinnamon chicken. This dish is a semi-thick gravy into which chicken is rolled. Tempered with the right amount of heat, ginger, red chillies, cinnamon and coriander this can be a formidable dish.
Popular with most Marathi varieties of chicken preparation, coconut is ground with hara kothmir and sukha masalas. Note that these aren’t similar to the much exploited Malvani cooking style which is confused with Maharashtrian. Many a time commercial units use masalas in a manner that tends to overpower the dish.
As far as their fish dishes go, they prefer to stick with the likes of rawas, surmai, bombil and kolambi curries. Fried fish is an otherwise hot selling item but tastes best when served hot. It hasn’t been introduced yet owing to its unviability of staying hot for long in a dabba.
4. NO ADDED FLAVOURS OR PRESERVATIVES
If there is one concern about ‘outside’ food, it’s about the thickening agents that go into its cooking. Most restaurants are known to use artificial thickening agents like corn flour, kaju paste, cheese and butter in their preparations. So what does Dabbalicious use to thicken their gravies, you may ask? Chickpea flour! Am pre-empting your next question, that is if chickpea flour is tasty or not? No, it isn’t merely tasty, it’s yummy! Nothing like gorging on food that’s ‘natural‘ly yummy’licious’ 🙂
That there are no added Colours or Flavours or Preservatives makes me sigh in relief and would make you too. Was never one for garishly orange coloured chicken or scarlet red gravies. Besides, I see no reason to preserve food for long unless they’re pickles. Hence preservatives have never been a hot idea personally. To not use preservatives is therefore yet another check mark in UGD’s favour.
Am sure most of you would prefer to use freshly ground spices in your meals over the retail packs available at stores. If you do, then you have no cause for concern as Dabbalicious does exactly that – use homemade spices freshly ground from raw material personally overseen by its makers.
5. PERSONAL TOUCH
In her opinion, Dr Desai, a clinical psychologist opines that food affects your mood and emotional makeup. She contends with the stereotype that women hold the best place in the kitchen as they have long since been associated with it. She, however, agrees that many chefs are men but despite this fact, most Indian households are known to pride themselves on having women manage the kitchen. So it is but natural to have a wife or mother or grandmother oversee the food quarter. The lady of the house she is called.
This is precisely why Dabbalicious employs an ‘all women’ staff to prepare their dabba meals. There’s a personal touch which women tend to attach to cooking. Despite the differences in food preferences, the women are relied upon to being mindful of keeping both genders happy. There is a separation of duties in their kitchens, each to her own area. For instance, Sunita-bai bakes the chapatis – hundreds in a day! Anu-bai grinds the masalas and chops the ingredients, Archana-bai packs the dabbas and “delivers the goods“.
6. WHAT’S ON THE MENU
To cater to a large customer base, they have classified their menu into “Veg“, “Basic Non-Veg” and “A La Carte“. A further grouping puts the list into “day wise” menus like the one below. Thankfully, the menus are not tediously the same and change daily for a fortnight.
What completes the meals are their rotis/puris, plain/stuffed parathas, rice/pulao, house salads and desserts. Add some biryanis too, prepared with egg, prawn/chicken/mutton.
7. DIVIDE AND COOK | DIFFERENT KITCHENS
With vegetarians and non-vegetarians living side by side in as populated a city like Mumbai, there are concerns of how and where the meals are cooked. Are there separate kitchens to cater to herbivores vs. carnivores cooking methods? The answer is Yes. A partition divides the vegetarian kitchen from the non-vegetarian. Even more, the cooking utensils are separated into ‘red‘ ones for ‘non-veg’ and ‘green‘ for veg.
They have even moved their kitchen area to Goregaon to cater to this separatist peculiarity of cooking veg meals in a veg kitchen only.
8. 3 Steps to Deliver the Goods
At present Dabbalicious is tied up with Mumbai’s Dabbawallas to deliver their dabbas. Soon enough they plan to tie up with Swiggy, Urban Clap and similar delivery channels to extend its reach in the city.
Within Goregaon itself where its kitchens are based, the delivery cost is zero as it employs its own delivery boys to “deliver the goods“. Do use the 3 above steps to get closer to a great meal!
So, will you try to check WHAT’S IN YOUR DABBA today?