Category Archives: Food

Shopclues Diwali Mela 2016

Festivities are in the air!

Shopclues celebrated Diwali in Office on 27th Oct, Thursday. HR Department had organised “Shopclues Diwali Mela” where employees had a chance to set up stalls (food or fun). I participated in the event along with 8 others, to set up a Food and Fun Stall, under the team name “The Fat Boys”.

I had great fun, working with the team, conceptualising and executing our Food and Fun stall. As Head of Marketing and Branding of The Fat Boys, I spammed my Twitter feed with posts about the event (which eventually made 6 people unfollow me :P).

We won the award for “The most innovative and creative Team”, among the 12 participating teams.

Some pics from the event below.

Happy Diwali folks.

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Photo Diaries #8: Fork You Too

Work hard. Party harder!

It’s not just a quote. It’s a way of life!

The pics below were clicked at “Fork You Too”, Sector 29, Gurgaon during a recent company organized party.

With Parkavi Vasan @ Fork You Too!

With Parkavi Vasan @ Fork You Too!

Fork You Too, Sector 29, Gurgaon

Fork You Too, Sector 29, Gurgaon

Startup Diaries #2: Peppertap

Imagine this scenario. Anupam Nair and Prateek Saurav are two bachelors who are working in Gurgaon, staying in a 2 BHK. Both of them are lazy by nature; so lazy that they think twice even for moving inside their house. So for them, going to the Grocery store to buy the weekly groceries was always going to be a colossal task. And in a city which has one of the maximum number of migrant employees staying away from home, Anupam Nair and Prateek Saurav are not alone.

It is this gap that Peppertap has identified and is trying to establish itself, as an Online Grocery, fruits and vegetables store. And they are slowly but surely making a mark in this space, in Gurgaon.

I heard about Peppertap three months ago, from a colleague whose friend is working there. I gave them a try. And they impressed. The Android App interface can be better and more user-friendly. There are nine Meta Categories, and anywhere between 2 to 9 sub-categories for each of the Meta Categories. So the App can be a bit tough to handle, initially. But then, their search bar is beyond awesome. I realized this only after my first 2-3 orders. After that, all I had to do was “search” for an item and add it to my cart. So instead of choosing “Fruits & Vegetables” and then choosing “Vegetables” and then choosing “Potatoes”, I could just type “Potatoes” on the search bar and add it to my cart.

And their selection is good, considering they’ve only started a few months back. I’m sure they’ll expand their category tree with time. Geography-wise, they’ve hit the bull’s eye by starting with Gurgaon.

Service is impressive. They deliver within two hours and there’s no extra charge for delivery if your basket size is above 250. I’ve had only one bad experience with them. I had ordered for 3 units of Nutrichoice 5 grain and got Nutrichoice Digestive delivered instead. To quote Deepika Padukone, it is “my choice” what biscuit I’d like to munch. Raised this issue with their customer service agent and they were quick to respond and cordial.

Google Playstore says that their Android App has 5000-10000 downloads and my latest order number was 9270. So they’re still young, but definitely growing.

Good luck, Peppertap!  Would love to see “peppertap” become a verb, like Whatsapp, Xerox.

Why go to the market to buy groceries when you can just PepperTap it.

Cheers!

Restaurant Review: Vaango

“Vaango” literally translated in Tamil means “Please come”. For those new to Vaango, it’s a pretty big restaurant chain across NCR that offers Authentic South Indian food.

The model is similar to the KFCs and McD’s of the world. They have a standardized menu across all outlets and follow a franchise model (I think).

The taste of food is unmatched by any restaurant chain here in NCR. Sagar Ratna will have noticed a lot of their customers being poached by Vaango.

Top 2 reasons why you should dine at Vaango are it’s menu and customer service. They have a number of new and unique combos to offer; Mini Dal Vadas (set of 4) and Poori Thali Combo being my personal favorites. Their staff are very cordial, except for the fact that they try to cross-sell/up-sell every time you place an order. “Would you like to add X as well?”, “Y will go well with this”, “Any drinks you want sir? Filter coffee, juices?”, can get on your nerves, after a point of time.

Will give you an example on the level of their customer service.

Last week, I had ordered a Poori Thali combo and completed the Pooris and 1 bowl of rice. I needed extra sambhar and pappads for the second bowl of rice and asked the server for the same. Even after 5 minutes when I hadn’t received it, I went up to the counter to raise my concern. Apparently, the server had taken the sambhar and pappad to a different table.

Seeing this, the manager immediately rushed to me to apologize for the mishap and gave me sambhar and 2 extra pappads. Apart from this, he also offered 1 plate of Idly Sambhar “from his side”, to appease me. “Extremely sorry for the delay Sir. We’ve kept you waiting for so long. From my side, I’ll offer you a plate of Idly Sambhar. Please don’t refuse it”, he said.  All this when I wasn’t even pissed or something.

Goes to show how much these restaurant chains care about their customers.

Like everything in Delhi-NCR, Vaango too is overpriced. Not every night can you have a Poori Thali Combo and Mini Dal Vadas for 180 rupees.

Startup Diaries #1: Zomato

I just happened to download the Android App of Zomato a couple of days back, and fell in love with it, at first sight. The seamless interface, ease-of-use and the business problem it solves for, all made me an instant Zomato loyalist. This is for a person who is nowhere close to being a connoisseur and is very selective about his food. Makes me wonder about how useful it can be to people who actually have a thing for food.

Zomato is a perfect example of creating a business that delivers value to all stakeholders. The customer has the power to decide the best eat-out place suited for him/her in his/her locality. Restaurants get added traction because of their visibility to people even outside their locality. Zomato, obviously monetizes from the restaurants that are listed on it.

Zomato was a great business “idea” (not sure if there are older players in the same market) even before its App was launched, when it was present only in one platform – the Desktop site. With the launch of its Mobile App (in 2011), the end customer got to search and visit restaurants in and around the area where he/she was currently standing.

This gave the end customer a lot of options to choose from – ITC Grand Chola to Rahul Tea Stall, any place could get itself listed on Zomato. Deepinder Goyal (Founder) would have had a challenging time trying to accumulate the first set of restaurants to list themselves on Zomato. Once the initial barrier was breached, it was only about scaling up to add more and more restaurants, by showcasing success stories of already listed restaurants. The model built by Deepinder and Co. was easily scalable, which is why they were able to expand rapidly across hundreds of cities in India, and abroad, in so little time.

Rather than just being an online search service which aggregates restaurants in a particular locality, Zomato enabled the user to rate and review restaurants. This meant that the restaurants listed on Zomato took additional care to “delight” the customer, for they knew that the customer would use the power of social media to spread a word about them, positive or negative.

Zomato made use of the insight that “people like to talk about the places they visit, verbally or through social media”. They helped create an all new ecosystem for people who like to discuss food.

I’ve been a big fan of their marketing campaigns too, be it the “There are two kinds of people” campaign or their minimal poster designs which regularly do the rounds on Social media.

I came across an article that listed Zomato’s App as one of the most downloaded Apps in 2014 (in India). After downloading the app myself, now I know why.

Keenly looking forward to what Zomato has in store, in 2015.

Next on Startup Diaries: Ola Cabs!

Restaurant Review – Rajdhani

I’ve seen this restaurant in Express Avenue (Chennai) but never had a chance to eat there, until a couple of weeks ago, in MGF Metropolitan, Gurgaon. For me, there are only two types of Indian Cuisine – South Indian and North Indian. So when Sashi asked if we could dine at Rajdhani, which offers unlimited Gujarati and Rajasthani cuisine for lunch, I agreed mainly because I couldn’t think of any alternative, being new to this place myself. The restaurant was fairly deserted, considering the fact that we went on a Sunday afternoon. Don’t know if that was the reason on anything else, but the service was super fast, true to its name, Rajdhani.

Rajdhani believes in standardization. They offer only one product, the Thali. Hence, they are able to serve their customers real fast. When I say real fast, I mean it.

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My plate at time ‘t’

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MY plate at time ‘t’ + 30 seconds

 

For someone very selective about eating my food, I myself had 12-13 items to choose from. There were Chota samosas, Rotis, Sweet Polis, Milk sweets, chips/flakes, Paneer Butter Masala, and a hoard of other anonymous items (at least, I can’t name them).

And everything was unlimited. I think the servers in Rajdhani have it in their KRA that none of the customers’ plates should be empty at any point in time. As soon as they see some food item diminishing in your plate, they’ll make it a point to replenish it even if you say your tummy can’t take anymore.

The servers are sweet too. When I said I didn’t want a particular item, the server said with a beaming smile, “Ek bar try kar do, saar. Bohut pasand ayega aapko”.

Definitely worth shelling out 350 bucks if you have an empty tummy and a liking for unlimited Rajastani food.

MSD P55 – Second year diaries: Part 4 – When we made modaks

Our batch of 107 people (Stalwarts, we call ourselves) has a lot of diversity in terms of geography, age and educational background. Having a hotel management grad (Rutwik Dilip Phatak) in our batch came in handy when he decided to make Modaks (Kozhukattai) for both batches, on the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi. Of course, he wasn’t going to do it alone; that’s where the help of people like me came into use.

Rutwik took care of the main part of mixing the ingredients in the right proportion. Others helped him around with the easier, repetitive manual work involved in making the modaks. It took the 10-15 of us three full hours to make around 300 modaks.

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The Master Chef, Mr. Phatak

The Master Chef, Mr. Phatak

Saiprasad posing as if he's working

Saiprasad posing as if he’s working

Ofcourse, other than  clicking these pics, I did some of the work too. It felt gratifying when the final product didn’t turn out to be too bad; in fact, it was well received by both the batches, with a few of them (notably Priyankar Pandit :D) sneaking more than their permitted amount of one modak.

That was the day I realized how much effort had to go in by the mess workers to prepare food for 200-300 people, four times a day. That was also the day I stopped complaining about my food. Cooking is tough.

Modaks, ready to eat

Modaks, ready to eat

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It was fun preparing Lord Ganesha’s favorite snack. He must have liked it.

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Bombay Lassi

I stay in Kilpauk (notorious for the “World renowned” Mental Hospital present there). One day during my vacations, when I was engrossed into the world of  Shantaram, I received a call from MP, my school friend. He invited me to have Samosas in a place somewhere near Mount Road.

Anyone who knows Chennai geography would think travelling from Kilpauk to Mount Road is a little too much for having Samosas. But having little else to do, I accompanied MP in his Activa, first to a Hard Disk Service Centre in Greams Road and then to the Samosa shop he was talking about. Thanks to the Chennai Metro work which was going on, we had to travel through the entire stretch of Mount Road and then through some gullies and small lanes that I had never been to before, to finally arrive at the shop beside the parking entrance of Devi Paradise Cinemas.

The shop was a humble 10×10 size and was run by 3-4 North Indians. The lane was too narrow for even a Tata Nano to pass through comfortably. There was a slum settlement just metres away and slum dwellers’ children were playing with each other, oblivious to the happenings around them. One elderly bearded man was frying hot samosas in a big “Anda” just outside the shop. The crowd was pretty huge considering the size of the shop. MP ordered a Samosa initially for me to taste. The piping hot samosa was easily one of the best I’d ever had. The semi solid paste inside the Samosa comprising mashed potatoes and green peas had a taste that was irresistible.

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With the little Hindi I knew, I told the guy in the shop, “Bhaiya, aur ek de deejiye!” (Brother, give me one more!). Even with the bearded man frying 30-40 samosas at a time, the demand far exceeded the supply. Hesitant to stop with 2 Samosas, I heard myself say, “Aur ek, bhaiya!”, and again, and again.  

I could have gone on to have a few more but decided against it.

In a few years from now, I am sure Bombay Lassi will have a number of branches across Chennai, like a Murugan Idli Shop or a HSB. That day, I’ll take credit for writing about Bomaby Lassi first.