Foodocracy India. Let's say thanks to our favourite restaurants. Khane Khas beginnings. Finely Chopped Covid-19 Journal 7

Jeera chicken, kaali dal, rumali and tandoori roti from Khane Khas, Bandra, Mumbai


I was rather excited when I saw a Facebook post from Hardeep Chadha, co-owner of the Khane Khas restaurant in Mumbai's suburb of Bandra where we stay,  a few days back. It said that they were re-opening for takeaways after having shut down initially for the Covid-19 Lockdown. The dining section would be shut though. 'Your and our entire team's safe health is our responsibility,' said the flyer which was probably designed by his business partner Atul Sahni.

A couple of nights later neither K nor I was up to making dinner. We needed a break. Without a second thought we called in for some of our favourites from Khane Khas. Kali dal, jeera chicken (leg piece), rumali and tandoori roti. Our other favourite from there being the tandoori chicken (leg piece). My mom in loves the paneer bhurji.

The delivery person arrived soon with piping hot parcels of food, wearing gloves and a mask. He delivered the food at the gate of our apartment complex. We paid with Paytm, currency notes were not exchanged. I transferred the food to our home utensils, washed my hands for 20 secs. As did K who had picked up the parcel downstairs, before we sat to eat.

The meal gave us abundant joy and the leftovers served us well the next day too.

I have been a loyal Khane Khas customer for the 20 years that I have been a Mumbaikar.  It has served as our quasi home kitchen right from the beginning of our married life. We have called in from then even when we were unwell. That is how much we trust them. As do so many others. Which is why we did not have a second thought about ordering from them during these times.

Emotions which would be evoked by many such well loved neighbourhood restaurants and eateries across the country I am sure. The sort of places whose customers know the owners, the staff, the faces behind the food. Establishments that have built a relationship based on trust over years of hard work.

The Khane Khas announcement on Facebook

The experience set me thinking about how much we all owe to our favourite eateries.  How much happiness they have given us. How they have sustained us through tough times.  By 'we,' I mean all of us diners.

How would these places manage during the lockdown, I wondered. What would happen to those who worked there? Their suppliers? Those who depended on them for subsistence? Internal and external customers both.

It is going to be a long winter no doubt, but winter does to turn to spring as they say. I am fully convinced that all the goodwill that they have earned by feeding their diners will come back to cocoon them and help them come out stronger.

What is key during this period is to keep one's life force or spirits up. The question is, how can we help them do so?

From Rukshana Kapadia's Facebook page

That is when I saw a post by my friend Rukshana Kapadia on Facebook, where she said that she planned to post about her favourite food (and restaurants) to cheer herself up, friends in the F&B community and the rest of us.

I thought that this was a lovely initiative. It reminded me of something I had been planning for more than a year, but had sat on all this while as I was not clear about the way forward. I was waiting for the right time, right support, right way, etc etc. I discussed this quite a few times with my friend Sameer Malkani who runs the FBAI and these brainstorming sessions helped one crystallise options.

The idea was to create a platform/ space to celebrate the SME segment of the Indian F&B business. Small and medium enterprises, which in this context would range from street food operators to legacy family run business, to small and modern independent run outfits. Anything which is owner driven.

The plan

I had even thought of a name for it:

 Foodocracy India

A play on the word democracy as this is about 'where India eats'.

Have I got my answers on how to go about it now? About whom to partner with, etc, etc?

No, but as they say, there is no time like now. Which is why I decided to give this dream a shot.

The objective being to give a shout out to our favourite eateries. Street food, cafes, family run heritage places. The independent operators.

We cannot visit them now, but can cheer for them loudly, send them our best wishes through this. Tell them that we miss them and that we are waiting for a time when we can go back to them.

How can one take part in the Foodocracy India movement?

'Movement' is a big word I know, but one can dream big right? Here is what I have thought of for now and I will try to improve upon it as the days go by.
  1. Write or do a video about the eatery that you want to talk about. It could be from anywhere across India. 
  2. Where to post it? Your own Facebook and/or Instagram page for now.
  3. At this stage, I would like to focus on the small businesses. Street food places, independent owned' family run places, cafes, food trucks. Places with no marketing resources but which are loaded with goodwill.
  4. To make your posts a part of Foodocracy India, use the following hashtag: #FoodocracyIndia and to  help classify, add #foodocracystreetfood (street food is defined as no permanent roof) or #foodocracyfamilyrun or #foodcracyindy (for outfits set up by individuals but are not
    street food) and the city tag. e.g, #foodocracymumbai #foodocracyjamshedpur etc
  5. It would be nice if you can use the #FoodocracyFinelychopped and tag @finelychopped  on      Facebook or @thefinelychopped  non Instagram. This would help me trace and collect them and put them on a website/ blog later. If I do so, I will check with you for consent first, BUT this is not about Finely Chopped, so I am more keen that you just share.
  6. Indicative content:
  • Name of the place
  • Any titbits about the place: the owners, the history of the place, any special dish that they do, anything that they have created, anything unique about them
  • Any personal memory that you have about the place
  • What would you recommend that people eat there. Anything to keep in mind.
  • Address, phone no, how to reach the place
  • Snappy 100 to 300 word pieces. You are welcome to write more but I felt that this makes it manageable    

Bringing it to life

Candies. Foodocracy India

 My first entry had to be on Candies and what I have written might give you an idea of what I have in mind. I have posted it on my Facebook and Instagram pages and on the blog and plan to do at least one piece every day. 

Candies Cafe is a 25 year-old Bandra institution. They have three outlets.

It is run by Allan Periera, a Goan who comes from the legacy of a family which ran bakeries and restaurants in Bandra, AKA 'the queen of suburbs' in Mumbai. Many of the dishes from the original menu belongs Mrs Periera's (Allan's wife's) home recipes. Allan is quite the hands on owner, though he is painfully shy and you will barely notice him unless you know him. His focus on quality has prevented him from expanding beyond what he can handle personally.  Some of the staff members have been here for a while and despite the crowds, welcome regular customers with a smile and a personalised greeting.

The outlets operate on a self service model and has an extensive range of sandwiches, snacks, bakes and breads, desserts, mains, coffee, teas and cold beverages made in house. The food is prepared through the day and brought to the counters and kept for customers. A few dishes such as eggs, pizzas etc are made to order. Their clientele consists of people of all ages, a favourite as much with toothless grannies as it is with toddlers with milk teeth, teens and pre-teens, their moms, working couples.

Candies is my favourite place to go to for breakfast with a book, to hang out with my wife when we manage to steal a spare moment together, or to meet my friends. It served as my quasi 'office' when I started my career as a freelance food writer. I wrote my book, The Travelling Belly, over many breakfasts there.

I always break into a smile when I step into Candies. As do most I see around me. Little wonder that I can barely wait to return.

My favourite orders at Candies:

Double shot cappuccino, chicken sandwiches (do not forget to ask for chips on the side and hope that they have it), mutton puff, mini croissant sandwich, mutton potato chop, mutton pan roll, Goan fish and prawn curry, the pizzas, classic roast chicken (leg piece).

Candies @ Mac Ronells, 5AA Pali Hill,
Next to Learners Academy School, Bandra (W)
2642 4124

Union Park, Palli Hill, Bandra (W)
2648 1686

ONGC Complex, Bandra Reclamation,
Near Lilavati Hospital, Bandra(W)
2642 3512 / 2642 3513

#foodocracyindia #foodocracymumbai #foodocracyfamilyrun #finelychopped #finelychoppedeats


Can it be an old place with right tags to avoid repeat posts?