Vairabi Rajbonshi touches base with Guwahati-born home chef Kasturi Barua to know her recipe for success
Home chef is the new buzz word in the culinary world. Today, it is a most-happening community in the world of feasting and hosting. As the kitchen stories expanded, the home chefs have found the perfect platform to not just make money, but also preserve traditional cuisines.
Guwahati-born Kasturi Barua has gone all gung-ho and joined the emerging breed of home-schooled chefs. For Kasturi, now based in Mumbai, it all started with cooking for friends. And soon, she discovered her true calling and a chance to dabble in what her pet skill – serving piping hot desi khana as you have it in your home.
Kasturi launched ‘Kasos Kitchen’, an Assamese home-cooked food delivery kitchen in Mumbai in 2017. The service offers an eccentric menu of Axomiya and Kerala cuisines.
“Mumbai has been my home for the past several years now. I was working in the sports marketing industry. Over the weekends, I would invariably end up cooking for my bunch of friends. It all started with cooking for their birthdays or anniversaries or impromptu house parties. Sometimes, I would end up cooking for over 30 people. Over time, I understood that we all crave for simple home-made food. The love and appreciation encouraged me to kick-start this venture ‘Kasos Kitchen’,” she said.
Kasturi delivers food across the tinsel town, Mumbai. She picked up the quirky logo for her venture from her name. “I was nicknamed ‘Kaso’, which is short of Kasturi, since my school days. ‘Kaso’ also means tortoise in Assamese. Thus the name ‘Kasos Kitchen’ came into being and a tortoise as its logo.
OF RECIPES & LOVE
As she moved towards making her love for cooking a venture, she started learning selected dishes from Assam and Kerala. “I have been fortunate to learn the recipes from the best. By best, I mean the wonderful people in my extended family with their authentic recipes.”
The excited home chef shared that there is a huge “dedicated and loyal fan following for food items from Northeast”. “As we all know, Assamese food is supremely healthy and light; devoid of spices. I had customers who tried Assamese food for the first time and have absolutely got addicted to the simplicity of our cuisine,” she said.
The home chef further shared that she has received an “overwhelming response” from her Mumbai customers. “I have a huge set of faithful customers, mostly non-Assamese, who order as frequently as twice a week. They find Assamese cuisine not only delicious but healthy too,” Kasturi shared.
KEEPING IT REAL
She takes orders over call, texts and social media. She too suggests dishes to customers as per their choice. “Through online delivery platforms, social media and word of mouth publicity, I have managed to garner a lot of interest from Mumbai food lovers. The key to keep this business going is to keep quality and taste intact and that remains my topmost priority,” she added.
At present, Kasturi picks up ingredients and cook each and every ordered item. The young and feisty chef is now working towards building her own brand. “It is a home kitchen and the idea is to deliver home-cooked food to the customer. Preserving traditional recipes for all my dishes and making sure the customer gets to taste authentic Assamese food are my key objectives,” Kasturi said.
WHAT’S IN THE MENU
From masor tenga to mutton in mint and coconut gravy – the menu flaunts some of the most popular dishes from Assam and Kerala.
For vegetarians, ‘Kasos Kitchen’ serve rajma masala, vegetable biryani, palak aloo with bamboo shoot, aloo pitika, boror tenga, tenga dal, malai aloo, elissery. “There are also platters for the non-vegetarians. We have chicken in black sesame, Assamese chicken curry, chicken with spinach and bamboo shoot, malai chicken curry, chicken biryani, pork with bamboo shoot, pork in black gram, Assamese mutton curry, mutton in mint and coconut gravy. I have also added bhindi sambar to the menu recently,” she shared.
A dash of mustard oil as the base for cooking is key to give a zing to the gravy dishes, she informs. “I often use bamboo shoot and black sesame as well. I work around my customer’s needs and my food is made fresh every day and as per quantity, making sure there is zero wastage,” she said.
It has to be – masor tenga – Kasturi promptly said. “Masor tenga is one of my signature dishes. I use freshwater fish like Rohu for the dish. ‘Talli Turmeric’ is a fancy new plush restaurant in Mumbai that serves authentic pan Indian food. The owners had tried my masor tenga and were very kind to add this dish to their menu as the entry from Assam,” Kasturi said.
Here, Kasturi guides you to prepare the most popular dish from Assam – masor tenga.
- Fry the fish pieces coated with turmeric and salt in hot mustard oil.
- In a separate pan, heat mustard oil and let few fenugreek seeds splutter in it.
- Add sufficient grated tomatoes and grated bottle gourd to the oil. Let it cook for about ten minutes till the tomatoes and gourd become soft.
- Now, add a cup of hot water and required salt to it.
- Add the fried fish pieces and let it simmer for another ten minutes.
- Once the burner is switched off, add chopped coriander leaves and a generous amount of squeezed lime.
Guwahati | Edited by: Arpita Das | First Published: May 13, 2019