The humble ‘bandi' has been transformed into a food kiosk, and what's on the plate appeals to everyone who loves eating on the go, Prabalka M. Borah reports
Does bandi food remind you of chat, pudina pani, makka butta and cup corn? Then you need to hit the streets and look at the new food stuffs that are available now. If the rising mercury has killed your appetite for a plateful of pani-puri, how about a freshly prepared Spanish omelette? Or veggies on a stick? Or roasted hot dog with the sauce of your choice? All these and many more are now available at kiosks or pushcarts. Bandis selling Lebanese foods and health juices are making it a pleasure to go out into the street. But can we ignore those warning reports in newspapers and safely grab a bite?
“Kiosks are easy to move, maintain and manage,” says Shahid Mohammed, who owns kiosks selling Lebanese and Chinese snacks. “While our kitchen is elsewhere, we supply only a limited quantity of ready-to-cook food to the bandis. We do not over-stock as that brings down the quality of the food. All my kiosks place their orders the moment they know they will run out of stock and are still expecting a steady stream of customers.”
Shahid's business is a little less than six months old but he is happy. What makes these ‘modified' kiosks click? Shahid says, “It is pocket-friendly, the quantity served is moderate and since we prepare them the moment the order comes we are able to maintain quality. We get our supplies in ready-to-cook state. This helps us save time, while ensuring what we serve is well-cooked — right in front of the customer.”
You don't have to be on the street to eat at a bandi. At the movies, those tired of popcorn, nachos and sandwiches are opting for fruit salads and fresh juices, while people with a sweet tooth are glad to find a brownie cart waiting for them. Says Divya, who runs a business of momo carts in the city, “We started selling momos at our cart in the multiplexes and the response was very good. For smaller enterprises kiosks are the best solution. It needs very little investment.”
Kiosks are modified as needed. Depending on what is served, some kiosks come equipped with a freezer to store food or a multi-cooking station with an exhaust. Shahid, who runs a chain of kiosks called Frangoh in supermarkets, says, “We use rice bran oil for frying as it is safe for reheating. We mostly don't use the oil over and over again to ensure the freshness in our food.”
Frangoh's menu is exhaustive for a kiosk, including veg bullets, cheese dinos nuggets, veg tikkas, chicken pakoda, chicken tikka, chicken roll, and chicken tandoori nuggets. Another kiosk selling novel foods is Eggie, which wants eaters to “get high on eggs.” Situated on Eat Street in People's Plaza, this bright yellow kiosk sells eggs in avatars from Spanish omelettes to egg manchuria. The idea again is to be different and sell fresh food, minus the seating arrangements of a restaurant.
“This works out just fine for us,” explains K. Karthik, co-director of Eggie. “It comes in our budget as well as the customer's. We can work with limited manpower. We sell for less and cook as the customer watches.”
Bandis are still pocket-friendly and now, since they insist upon maintaining hygiene, you can eat without fear.