Food Work

The Reinvention: This Moradabad Coaching Centre Boss Became a Lockdown Chef

When the pandemic struck down Parul Ahuja's coaching centre business in Moradabad, she started a home restaurant offering fabulous food. #TheReinvention

This article is part of our series ‘The Reinvention’ about women who adapted to the ‘new normal’ during the COVID lockdown and took a new direction in their career during this challenging period.

By Shweta Bhandral

Parul Ahuja and her husband run a coaching centre in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh. But schools, colleges, and coaching centres were the first to shut when the pandemic brought with it a national lockdown, and they will be the last to open.

The couple was confronted with a significant dilemma.That is when Parul, who is a mother of two teenage daughters, decided to work on an idea that was brewing in her mind since December 2019 when she cooked a full meal for a friend’s party and got rave reviews.

Soon, with the help of her daughter, she made a WhatsApp group. They named her home restaurant Kitchen on Fire and posted a menu that people could order from. Friends and family helped to spread the word, and orders started pouring in.

Parul’s speciality is non-vegetarian food. But it wasn’t so easy to cook up amazing dishes through the lockdown. As her city was declared a red zone, it became difficult for her to procure ingredients.

“My husband knew some people in the trade, and we tied up with them for our chicken supply and with another vendor for our vegetables,” she narrates. “They would come halfway, and he would go the rest of the distance to pick up supplies. Everyone in the family pitched in.”

Parul, who lives on Kanth road, TDI City, Moradabad, is happy that people love her home-cooked food. She is incredibly careful about hygiene. She sanitises raw material with salt and warm water before cooking. No one, except her daughters and husband, is allowed in the kitchen.

Parul Ahuja

Parul has grown a regular customer base over these past few months supplying lunch and dinner to doctors and professionals. With the support of her daughter, who is studying hotel management, she is also experimenting with baked goods and started offering birthday cakes last month.

“Kitchen on Fire has not only generated enough income to pay my house bills, but I have even paid school fees from it and have managed to save some too,” says the 46-year-old happily, adding that her new venture has made her feel empowered.

Place orders at +91 80779 92085

KAALI MIRCH CHICKEN

Ingredients:
For marination: 1 kg chicken; 1 cup yoghurt; 1 tsp black pepper powder; 1 tsp garam masala; 1 tsp cumin powder; 1 tsp salt; 1 tbsp garlic ginger paste; 1 tsp kasuri methi

For gravy: 2 onions; 7-8 cashew nuts; 4 green cardamoms; 1 cinnamon stick; 1 tbsp butter; 1 cup water; 1 tbsp ghee; 1 tsp black pepper powder; 1 tsp garam masala; 1 tsp kasuri methi; 1 tsp sugar; ½ cup cream; salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients and keep aside for half an hour.
  2. In a pan, put all the chopped onions, cashew nuts, green cardamoms, cinnamon stick, butter, water and boil it for 3 minutes. Let the mixture cool before making a paste in a blender.
  3. Take ghee and butter in a big vessel or a wok and stir-fry marinated chicken pieces to keep it aside.
  4. In the same oil, add black pepper powder, cumin powder, garam masala, salt, sugar and kasuri methi and stir. Then add onion paste mixture and cream with water.
  5. Now add chicken pieces to it and let it cook till the chicken gets tender and gravy is thick. Serve hot with black pepper powder garnish.

First published in eShe’s August 2020 issue

Syndicated to Money Control

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