By Quaid Najmi
(IANS) Long before the controversial film, professional caterer Sameer Barabde’s Bollywood catering company ‘Udta Punjab’ had attained popularity for its special Punjabi cuisine in suburban Goregaon.
After ‘catering’ to several movies, including “Rocky Handsome”, “Fitoor” and “Madari”, Udta Punjab diversified to speedy, home-deliveries in the western suburbs.
The company, run by the Barabde brothers — catering graduate Sameer and Bollywood line producer Sunnyl, yes, Sunnyl — has introduced what is perhaps the city’s first ‘Party by Kilo’ food service.
“We have seen that many Mumbaikars have regular small parties of 10-15 persons at home. But ordering everything on piece-portion basis proves very expensive,” Sameer said.
“Now, Udta Punjab is offering everything on a kilo basis, which can drastically cut down the budget and enable them order more items on the menu, besides making our deliveries flexible to cover entire Mumbai and Navi Mumbai,” Sunnyl explained.
Citing an example, he said for a party of around 15 people, at least two kg of biryani would be required, but by the kilo system, they can order one kg biryani, and one kg of other items to make it a full variety, yet economical meal.
However, despite the experience of Bollywood catering behind them, Sameer and Sunnyl have not labelled any of their dishes after stars or starry preferences.
“For us, each of our customer is a star and their response is what we starve for,” smiled Sameer.
His professional catering qualifications notwithstanding, Sameer, with origins in Nagpur, magnanimously gave due credit for the food preparations and menu items to his chef, Simon Rodrigues, hailing from West Bengal’s 24 Parganas.
“Simon is the backbone of this business. Without him, it would be difficult to please hundreds of hungry and discerning customers daily in these areas which comprise a generous mix of people from Bollywood, IT and call centres, national and multinational corporate houses and upper-class residential areas,” Sameer said.
Referring to the name, Udta Punjab, Sameer grinned, obviously waiting for the question, and said it is part of his company, Tirupati Hospitality, and over a year old.
“However, the recent controversy over the film ‘Udta Punjab’ had definitely helped us and most customers enquire ‘who inspired whom’ for the name,” he chuckled.
The reason for the name Udta Punjab was to signify the special authentic Punjabi flavour in the cuisine and ‘flying’ delivery to its customers all over, he explained, adding that the decision to go retail was taken in February 2016, long before the “Udta Punjab” promos were released.
Detailing the concept of take-aways and speedy deliveries, Sameer said he was reluctant to venture into the restaurant business for various reasons, including the location, maintenance and upkeep, availability of staff, fluctuating numbers of patrons and the like.
A take-away or delivery service permits chef Rodrigues to prepare quality dishes and explore more varieties depending on customers’ requirements and varied palates.
“Yes, catering to Bollywood and vibrant film sets at various locales is great fun, but take-aways and deliveries, and now ‘Party by Kilo’ gives more satisfaction with genuine reactions from the patrons,” Sameer said, with future plans to open more such outlets.
The top moving items from Udta Punjab’s kitchen are mutton and chicken biryanis, paneer lajawab, dal makhni, murgh Lajawab (an unusual tandoori-gravy preparation which goes with rice-rotis), bhuna gosht and dum gosht masala, topped off with malai firni, hot gulab jamuns and chocolate mousse.
Where: Near Vibgyor School, Link Road, Goregaon W. Tel. No: 08080806969
Cost: A multi-course vegetarian meal for two costs approximately Rs 600; non-vegetarian around Rs 750.
Hours: Open all days. Only deliveries/take-aways. No alcohol served/sold.
(The writer’s visit was at the invitation of Udta Punjab. Quaid Najmi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org )