CHENNAI: If you are looking for experiences and stories weaved along with the food you eat, look no further. A two-year-old Mumbai-based company, Authenticook has made it possible for you to have India on a plate, from the comfort of your own city. The operations have recently begun in namma Chennai, and we explore more about the company that aims to give you a unique social dining experience in other people’s homes.
The idea for the food start-up emerged when three friends, Aneesh Dhairyawan, Priyanka Deshpande and Ameya Deshpande set out on a trip to Leh. “We are travel and food enthusiasts, and it was easy to get access to food like burgers, pizzas, and pastas but not the authentic cuisine of that particular region or community. We wanted a chance to enter a local home, understand their culture and have a meal with them, however simple it maybe,” narrates Aneesh.
After contemplating the idea, the trio began the company in 2015, introducing the concept of ‘food surfing’ to India. At Authenticook, you will be put in touch with home chefs of your respective city or other cities (in case of travellers), who serve authentic meals in their homes. “The website allows you to pick the cuisine, meal and also to request the date. According to the availability, the meal date will be fixed and you can go to the cooks’ home and have a memorable time! It allows you to understand different cuisines, communities and also appreciate it,” he adds.
Spread across 17 cities, there are close to 10 hosts in Chennai who can give you a taste of Punjabi flavours, authentic Tamil Nadu cuisine and even a typical Coorgi meal. “Each host has a speciality — from Tamil temple food, authentic Mangalorean, Marwari to Sindhi food…there’s everything. Every family has a story and it gives you the knowledge of why a dish is cooked a certain way and so on,” says Aneesh.
To get a first-hand experience, we were invited to dine at the house of Rupa Rajamani at Egmore, a banker-cum-home chef who recently got on board with the Authenticook team. A warm welcome and a few minutes of introductory greetings were all that a bunch of strangers gathered at Rupa’s home needed to break bread.
Opening her kitchen to us, filled with the aroma of piping hot food, Rupa says, “I grew up in Kolkata. I used to visit the clubs there, thrice a week with my parents. Being vegetarians, we always used to look for a substitute for meat and the way the dishes were served in the clubs really stuck to me. So, even after so many years, the memories are fresh and that’s what I will be giving the diners who come to my home — a piece of ‘Calcutta Colonial Club meal’,” she grins.
While the company promotes the widespread concept of ‘Unity in diversity’, on a plate, their objectives are manifold. Yogita Uchil, Authenticook South’s community manager-cum-homechef who specialises in the Mangalorean cuisine, shares, “The concept is about reviving traditional food, and also empowering women/home cooks who have the skill and time but need a platform to provide healthy home-cooked food!” she declares.
In an era where food is delivered at the comfort of your own doorstep, dwindling social interactions, imagine sitting around a table at the house of a stranger, meeting different people with different stories, over a scrumptious meal! “Everyone wants to go back to basics now — eat and explore authentic recipes and also bond with people. Though this concept is new in the city, with awareness, it’s sure to catch up,” adds Yogita.
Meet the home chefs
Festive Feast of Tamil Nadu by Vimala
Vimala, a 54-year-old home cook, specialises in South Indian flavours and has curated a menu that will serve its diners a taste of Temple prasadams of Tamil Nadu. “Though we haven’t hosted anyone yet, the temple prasadam menu is something new and the concept is exciting. We are looking forward to the Chennai market to open up to it,” says her daughter Jayasurya Sivasankaran.
Aromas of Coorg by Smitha Kuttayya
Smitha Kuttayya provides authentic meals from the Coorg cuisine. She is among the few home chefs to have hosted diners in the city. “I had about five people from different backgrounds dine at my home and it was enjoyable,” she says.
Punjabi Swaad by Shani Singh
Malai koftas, Punjabi chicken, chicken kebabs — sounds like a droolworthy meal? Shani Singh (60) will serve diners a thali of authentic Punjabi flavours!
Mangalorean Trails by Yogita Uchil
A city-based food critic-blogger and home chef, Yogita guarantees that her Mangalorean meal is as authentic as it gets! “I have already hosted a meal and as a team, we are also looking to expand to other places in South India,” she says.