Lunchtime at Khao San, a restaurant in Mumbai’s hip Khar neighbourhood, usually means a flurry of orders for Thai green curry, tom yum soup and other pan-Asian dishes. But these days, its kitchen is busy churning out large quantities of more humble staples such as dal-chawal, chole-chawal and rajmachawal.
The food is packed neatly into boxes and sent out to be distributed in the slums of Dharavi and to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation employees like sanitation staff, who have to report for work but would be hard-pressed to find a meal, with most establishments closed.
“We had decided to freeze operations even before the lockdown was announced for the sake of everyone’s safety,” says Vanitaa Lalwani, chef and partner at Khao San. “That was when Pragya Kapoor, founder of Ek Saath-The Earth Foundation, suggested we keep our kitchen open to help those who were not getting food. We thought it was a fabulous idea.” The foundation provides the ration, bought with donations, while Khao San makes the meals. For over a week now, 2,000 packages are being sent out every day for lunch and dinner.