Express News Service
The irony of the coronavirus is that while it destroyed dreams, it also made some come true. Venu Mathur had always wanted to be a purveyor of fine Kayastha food. “Traditionally, Kayasthas are not inclined towards business, which is why there aren’t many Kayastha restaurants,” she explains. With her husband Ramesh, she opened Bageechi Kitchen, a home food delivery service offering Kayastha cuisine from the kitchens of Delhi’s age-old Mathur community.
As the lockdown months wore on, regular income had come to a standstill. The Mathurs saw an opportunity to start a food business from home. The all-family gastronomic enterprise is named after Venu’s ancestral home Bageechi—or garden—at Nai Sarak, Chandni Chowk. Its recipes are inspired by her father’s favourite dishes, many of which he created himself. Venu is the head chef, while Ramesh is responsible for procurement, packing and delivery logistics. Son Rahul provides inputs on business and marketing and daughter Vrinda heads creatives and social media.
First, they used their home kitchen to cook orders. As word spread and their clientele grew, the Mathurs invested in professional appliances and large utensils. “Our biggest investment was time. We first put in place a detailed marketing, design and communication plan. Then Venu spent hours fine-tuning and formalising traditional Mathur recipes to create a special menu,” shares Ramesh.
Bageechi Kitchen is an identity statement. The Kayasthas served the ruling powers as administrators, ministers and record-keepers through centuries. The Mathurs of Delhi were attached to the Mughal court and settled in the sheher, now known as Old Delhi. Their imperial proximity inspired their cuisine, with meat as an indispensable item.
“Mutton was a must at our table. My father and great-grandfather enjoyed mutton koftas and other mutton dishes every day. This love of meat has trickled down to us. Though we don’t eat meat at home every day, the most popular dishes at Bageechi Kitchen are mutton-based. My signature dish is Badam Parsinde, made of boneless flat mutton pieces prepared with almonds, cashews, khus and sesame seeds. The cut of the meat is most important,” shares Venu.
Other popular Kayastha dishes of Delhi include Daal Meat, Mutton Koftas, Bedmi Aloo and Nagori aur Halwa to be had with fluffy bread Bakharkhanis or Sheermals. A popular vegetarian Kayastha dish is the elaborate Nargisi Kofta—potato-wrapped cottage cheese with dry fruits swimming in a masala gravy. Paneer Nawabi involves creamy coconut and cashew nut gravy sprinkled with raisins. With emphasis on slow cooking, Venu ensures that every dish is imbued with her signature spices, giving them rich flavours and aromas. “Bageechi Kitchen provides healthy, hygienic, tastefully crafted home cooked Mathur food. The ingredients are the same we use at home. Besides, our food is not heavy.”
Orders are placed a day in advance, since each dish is made fresh. Their USP is converting traditional Kayastha dishes to suit current tastes. Delhi foodies love the Bedmi Aloo and Nagori Halwa package for Sunday brunch—dal-filled bedmi pooris and tangy aloos, and bite-sized Nagori crisps served with halwa. Bedmi pooris, made with wheat flour and powdered urad dal, is a traditional Delhi 6 breakfast.
A food industry professional, Kanak Sood is a regular customer of Bageechi Kitchen. He appreciates its balance between indulgence and homestyle cooking. He recommends the Bhowaliwala chicken.
Says Venu,“My all-time favourite recipes have been created by my father. These appear on our menu, much to the delight of Bageechi Kitchen customers.” Orders can be placed through their social media handles or email: [email protected]
DADDY’S DAAL MEAT
● 2 medium-sized onions
● 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
● 250 gram mutton
● Puree of two tomatoes
● 2 tsp dhania masala
● 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
● 1/4 tsp haldi powder
● ¼ tsp garam masala
● Chop onions and fry till golden brown
● Add ginger-garlic paste and fry till the raw smell goes away
● Add the mutton and cook till it changes colour
● Add the tomato puree and cook for some more time till the tomato gets cooked and leaves oil
● Add the masalas (haldi, dhaniya, mirch, garam masala) and fry till you see oil collecting on the sides
● Add urad dal and mix well
● Add water and cook till ready
● Garnish with fried onions and