Some people love to eat, some people love to cook. Then there are those who belong to the intersecting part of the Venn Diagram – I love food whether it’s making it or eating it or just looking at it. I started early during school like any of you out there. When I got home, momma wasn’t around, and the hunger pangs were loud enough to echo off the walls, I’d grab a packet of Maggi and make a bowl for myself adding in some extra masala, cut tomatoes and whatever pleased me then. Slowly, this evolved into the phase where pappa would cart instant soup, MTR ready to eat packs and similar items so I’d feel elated about “cooking” something at home. Of course, time taught me that there wasn’t any real talent involved and any idiot could heat things up, but at that time, I felt like a gourmet chef.
Not more than a year ago, I met someone from YouJustCook.com who had the idea of customizing recipes, sourcing fresh ingredients in the stipulated quantities and selling them off the website for those who would love to eat a good home meal after a long day at work. It made a lot of sense. For example, if I wanted to make a coffee walnut cake, I’d need about a few table spoons of espresso powder for which I’d have to buy a whole bottle, which would be an expensive affair and I wouldn’t entirely use it anyway. So the idea certainly makes sense in a lot of ways, but not many people were executing it at the time. YouJustCook wow-ed me by sending across ingredients for recipes that I provided alongside what they already had on the website for a good price.
After BigBasket came into the picture, there was no problem in hunting down ingredients like before to create good dishes. The vegetables are quite fresh and we can almost always find the required condiments on the website (if not make a trip to Food Hall or Gourmet West). Every month, Big Basket surprises folks with new product or service offerings and recently the brand launched Happy Chef – Ready to Cook Gourmet Meal, similar to the YouJustCook format. However, BigBasket’s ingredients and method of delivery are a treat to anyone as it comes in a box neatly stacked, labeled, premeasured and freezing cold to keep them all fresh and intact.
All the Happy Chef products are recipes created and perfected by chefs across various cuisines. They come with recipe cards that instruct you to create the meal step by step, premeasured so there is no room for error, sometimes pre-processed so you don’t spend much time from the cook to the dine. The idea is to make cooking gourmet meals a cakewalk.
There are four categories of these meals – Salads, Minis, Mains and Casual Dining.
I tried a Salad and Main – The Happy Chef Arabic Fattoush Salad, Serves 2 (Veg) and The Happy Chef Fettuccine In A Parmesan And Blue Cheese Sauce With A Heirloom Tomatoes And Crouton Salad, Serves 2-3 (Veg)
(Image Courtesy: BigBasket)
As I browsed through the Happy Chef products I did notice an overlap of ingredients. It is a smart move for BigBasket as it does save them a lot of resources and reduces on wastage of products, while also ensuring fresh products are delivered to customers.
The box of ingredients made me very happy as it was picture perfect, vibrant and very much like what you’d get at the farmer’s market. The tomato pure had a strong hint of preservatives, but I guess they all did to keep them in their pristine state until they were delivered and consumed. Happy Chef products are meant to be used as soon as they are delivered. A temperature drop does seem to have a nasty effect on the products which seems natural as they are cared for artificially since the time of harvest until delivery. Big Basket does have a disclaimer and advises “For best results, prepare the dish within 6 hours of receiving it. After preparation, consume it within 12 hours, else, store in a refrigerator (below 5 deg. C) for no longer than 12 hours.”
The recipe cards are extremely easy to follow. The quantities are quite generous as well, and the cooking time is highly reduced as the veggies are already chopped/pureed/processed so you can throw them on the heat right off the box.
The Fattoush Salad didn’t need any cooking. The Pasta was a delight to cook and eat. It felt as good as an Italian meal at a good restaurant. The pricing does set me off and make me question about VFM. But think about it, if you did decide to make your family pasta for the night, how much would the ingredients cost? What kind of effort would you have to put into it? Would you pay Rs. 600 for Happy Chef and cook it at home in half an hour, or visit Chianti for a good meal that costs over Rs 2500?
That’s a choice I’d leave to you. I know I’d do both on different evenings.
Again, don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself. Order Happy Chef from BigBasket and just have fun being a Gourmet Chef. You can pride yourself on cooking something that you never thought possible before in just under half an hour thanks to the genius called BigBasket.