|The Mango Pickle Kit from Conosh
Closer to home, Conosh, a hyper-local service that allows you to eat delicious food whether it is eating at home or at the restaurant, introduced the concept of DIY kits. The idea was to continue bringing people together over food. What they did was to bring home chefs to create such kits that were home delivered and at a pre-decided time, the cook would take the consumers through a step-by-step process of making that dish.
From Pickles to Sourdough bread, Pizzas to Pie-tarts, Conosh had it all. When quizzed on the why and what of kick-starting DIY methods, Neha Malik, Co-Founder at Conosh says, “As the lockdown happened, Instagram was taken by a storm of people who were cooking awe-inspiring dishes and on another hand, other sets of people who lamented they couldn’t access such food. Sometimes, ingredients were an issue and at others, someone to help them step by step. We saw a gap in the market and went ahead to fill it.”
|Mexican Tacos kit by Little Italy
This was also echoed by Amrut Mehta, Director at Little Italy Group of Restaurants as well, where he says that the introduction of DIY kits was something they came up with after multiple interactions with guests and learning how they were hesitant to order from outside because of safety concerns but at the same time they were very enthusiastic about cooking at home.
While for hobby chefs, cooking has been a total stress buster, for eateries, it is still a very small part of the order when compared to ready-made dishes. Hence, not all eateries have rolled it out for all their dishes. Limiting it to dishes like Pasta, Pizza, Tacos, etc are the easy ones.
He says, “Our first set of DIYs were very classic recipes: for example Banana Bread, where we added elements of complexity and seasonality to them. In this case, pairing the caramelization of the bananas with the freshness of summer passion fruit and layering it all with the roundedness of Ghanaian single-origin Chocolate Chip.”
Agrees Mehta who says, “I think that it is going to be a trend that is here to stay. Even as restaurants open, we will not see many people flock to restaurants for the next few months as public sentiment is uncertain about the safety aspect. We will increasingly see more people get together at homes for parties and small events where guests are more likely to cook themselves using these DIY kits as it saves time and people are able to recreate restaurant-like, versatile dishes at home.”
While restaurants like Little Italy, Smoke House Deli, Pot-O-Noodles, Potful Biryani and many others have been first movers in offering these kits, many others are catching up.
For a dish as complex in tastes like the Biriyani, Lokesh Krishnan, founder of Potful Biryani feels that cooking Biriyani pots would dispel a lot of myths around the dish.
The hygiene factor when it comes to meat is something that everyone agrees is going to be tricky. While the earlier days of lockdowns and the pandemic saw people shunning meat altogether, it has been an uphill task for eateries to get people to look at meat again.
The orders have been moving, consumers have been accepting DIY kits, what does this mean for restaurants while pricing them? Do DIY kits cost higher because the restaurant has to ensure the raw food is not contaminated and hence take extra precautions, or is it much cheaper because it requires lesser effort and manpower?
The latter, says Mehta. “The DIY kits are priced much cheaper and rightfully so because while the food cost remains the same, the effort or human involvement behind every kit is marginal compared to a ready meal which requires a qualified chef to prepare your dish. The DIY kits are roughly 40% the price of a ready meal. For example, a pizza at Little Italy is roughly Rs. 550, however, a DIY kit gives 3 pizzas at Rs. 899.”
Adding to it, Bakthiani says, “Our plan with the Bake-alongs was to make people feel comfortable baking, so it was important that we made these boxes easily accessible. To do this, we started by pricing these boxes much more moderately than our other products (up to 35% lower), seeing as many people currently find themselves in situations of financial uncertainty”
For consumers like Debolina and Rupa, shelling out a little extra does not pinch the pocket solely because of the convenience factor. “Little Italy’s DIY Pizza Kit has three pizza bases with sauce and toppings for Rs. 899. Individually this will cost more while ordering in. However, if I can add custom toppings to this, and pay more – make a customised pizza that I can’t get directly at a restaurant, yes I could pay more for that.”, adds Debolina.
Going the extra mile to satiate one’s cravings is not a sin, nor is NOT cooking a meal. Sometimes, we all agree, DIY lets you not worry!