1. Food matters

Food matters

Dabbas are getting reinvented from the monotonous roti-dal-subzi routine to offer wellness-inducing, calorie-defined, gourmet and diabetic-friendly meals for health-conscious urban Indians

By: | Updated: February 17, 2015 6:00 PM

MALINI DEEKSHITH, a director with Bangalore-based OSS GPS Tracking Solutions, a GPS tracking provider, has to often travel out of Bangalore for work. During those trips, the 47-year-old would often worry about her husband and son’s daily food requirements. “When I have to be away from my family for long periods, I don’t like the idea of my husband and son eating out in restaurants everyday mainly because of the high trans fat content of the food there. Also, the body doesn’t get a nutritious meal when we eat out,” she says.

Looking for a healthy food option for them, a Google search led her to iTiffin, a Bangalore-based online-cum-offline tiffin service company that offers healthy meal plans to homes and offices. “They deliver wholesome, well-balanced and healthy meals to your doorstep. Their lunch and dinner trays serve the recommended daily portions needed for a person,” says Deekshith. “It also helps in maintaining an optimum body weight. My husband and son are happy they have not put on extra weight after they started having iTiffin meals.”

Incorporated in June 2013 in Bangalore, iTiffin blends advanced nutrition, food science and food service to offer everything from wellness-inducing to calorie-defined meals, as per a diner’s preference. It caters to a customer base across all ages, including specialised meals for senior citizens and children. “The iTiffin team comprises food and nutrition scientists and expert chefs with the strength to dish out 20,000 meals per day,” says CEO and co-founder Tapan Kumar Das. “Our meals pack in a balance of nutrients to check blood sugar levels, fortify immunity and build a healthier heart. We also assure quality and hygiene right from the ingredients used in the meal to the world-class contamination-proof packaging based on HACCP standards in our kitchens,” says Das.

Customers can opt for their weekly or monthly subscription plan. For one meal a day, the weekly subscription is priced at R500-R800 and monthly subscription costs R1,800-R3,000. The price varies based on the customer’s choice of vegetarian or non-vegetarian food. The meals include servings of pulses, chapattis, a vegetable, chicken, rice, salad, etc.

Eating healthy is no longer just a fad. With health studies linking diseases like diabetes, cardiac problems and respiratory ailments directly with our lifestyles, urban India’s demand for healthy, home-style food has grown manifold over the past couple of years. However, not everybody has the time, energy or the resources to cook at home. With changing Indian demographics—growing number of nuclear families, working couples who have no time for cooking, increasing number of people seeking to make a livelihood in the metros, hectic schedules, the difficulty of getting a domestic help in big cities, among others—health food service providers like iTiffin are in great demand.

Take, for instance, Delhi-based TLC Kitchen. Founded in December 2013 by Tarani Kapur, TLC (Tarani’s Low Calorie) Kitchen—a calorie- and portion-controlled gourmet food delivery service—offers customised gourmet meal plans across India. The menu offered is fairly diverse, with cuisines ranging from Lebanese, Indian, Continental and Thai, among others. Customers can choose from their meal plans like ‘Weight Management’, ‘Healthy Heart’, ‘Diabetic Friendly’ and ‘Calorie Controlled’. “We offer four basic meal plans for healthy living: for weight management, for controlling type 2 diabetes, special diets for cardiac health and calorie-specific plans,” says 36-year-old Kapur. “Our in-house dietician speaks to each customer and understands their lifestyle. We get their BMI checked and, accordingly, recommend diet plans.” Their Healthy Heart vegetarian lunch, for instance, consists of dishes like chargrilled cherry tomato, vegetable yakhni biryani, roasted sesame mirchi salan, paneer tikka, wholewheat tortilla, etc, while the Healthy Heart non-vegetarian dinner consists of Vietnamese sea bass, Moroccan couscous, stir-fried zucchini, field mushrooms and peppers, etc. Their Calorie Controlled plan costs R250 per meal, while Weight Management, Diabetic Friendly and Heart Healthy plans cost R195 per meal.

Adding another dimension to the scenario is Pune-based animal rights activist Anuradha Sawhney, whose ‘vegan’ dabba service is cooking up a storm in the city. Veganism is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients. Many vegans also do not eat foods that are processed using animal products, such as refined white sugar and some wines. So Sawhney’s offerings include wholewheat snacks, crispies made from oats, jaggery instead of sugar, chivdas made of brown rice, jowar roti, ragi pancakes, spinach with ginger, amla drink and so on. The grains and spices she uses are organic. Needless to say, there’s no place for sugar and fat here; milk and milk products are a strict no-no. The cost is R180-R280 per tiffin, depending upon the location.

Interestingly, it’s not just ‘food’ that start-ups are focusing on. Some like JustPressed and RAW Pressery focus entirely on delivering fresh and healthy juices to your doorstep. New Delhi-based JustPressed’s juices are cold-pressed—a process that retains most nutrients during manufacturing unlike industrial processes of boiling, pulping and centrifugal extraction—and hence are “100% pure with no chemicals, flavours, added sugar/salt, aroma or preservatives”, says Rahul Monga, director, JustPressed. Founded in 2005 by the husband-wife duo of Anu and Rahul Monga, JustPressed, which delivers to Delhi-NCR, offers its juices in two sizes:

300 ml (R175) and 500 ml (R275).

RAW Pressery, which delivers to Mumbai and Pune, also employs cold-press technology to manufacture its juices. “Unlike household juicers and blenders, cold-press technology produces no heat and allows no air to enter during the juice extraction process. The heat and air thrust through the juice when you make it in a normal blender or juicer destroys living enzymes and micro-nutrients. However, during the cold-pressing process, tons and tons of pressure is exerted on the raw produce to yield a fine consistent juice,” says Anuj Rakyan, founder and CEO, RAW Pressery. Their juices are developed under the professional guidance of medical and culinary experts, and include offerings like Trim (made from kale, spinach, doodhi, amla, celery, green apple, ginger and lemon), which helps manage weight; Glow (made from cucumber, coconut, pineapple, lemongrass, aloe vera and lemon) for healthy skin; Build (made from almonds, honey, cinnamon and sea salt), which helps lower cholesterol; among others. Prices start from R2,250 for 15 juices a month (the retail price of a 250 ml bottle is R150). Orders must be placed 48 hours prior to the date of delivery.

There are also companies like Bangalore-based Snax Smart, which tie up with companies to install health food vending machines at their campuses. Aiming to provide easy access to health food for corporate employees, Snax Smart maintains and services these machines six days a week. They stock food items from cornflakes, muesli, oats, chocos to various kinds of cookies, chikki, popcorn, nutri bars, almonds, raisins, cashews, dark chocolate, soup, fruit juices, buttermilk, flavoured milk, etc—all lower-fat, lower-sugar and lower-cholesterol than what is available in the market. “Corporate executives have no time to work out and hence indulge in a lot of binge eating. Seven-eight cups of tea/coffee, a samosa in the evening, colas, chips, etc, are all part of a regular work day. Access to junk food is easy. A pizza is just 30 minutes away. However, access to health food is difficult. That is why I decided to solve that problem and make healthy food easily accessible to corporate employees,” says Shankar M Prasad, CEO and founder, Snax Smart. Currently, Snax Smart’s machines are installed in the Bangalore offices of companies like Myntra, Herbalife, ITC, GE, Manhattan Associates, Time, etc. Companies pay Snax Smart a rental and their employees pay for the snacks they consume. The company plans to expand to cities like Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad and Jaipur in the next one year. No wonder they say ‘health is wealth’.

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Tags: Bangalore

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