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Friday, January 28, 2011

It doesn’t matter if we’re too busy or unable to cook our own lunches anymore because dabba services are here to rescue us. Rhea Dhanbhoora and Samreen Samad talk to a few and find out what they’re dishing out...

Too busy to make lunch but tired of grabbing quick and unhealthy meals? There’s no need to worry because dabba services are here to save the day. Whether you want a healthy, balanced meal, a gourmet treat every day or simply wholesome, home cooked food, there are a lot of options. We talk to a few and find out what they’re offering, what made them start off and what it’s like to have a dabba service business in Mumbai…

LoveLunch serves healthy, colourful, balanced and exciting food. Run by Glenard Alves, they deliver hot lunches to people in Mumbai daily. They started four years ago and had no trouble climbing up the success ladder. Glenard tells us, “We had a great response from day one. People love the concept, the name, the packaging and the fact that there’s something exciting in their dabba every day. The food is light (we promise a no-post-lunch-slump!) and everyone loves the fact that we email them the menu in the morning.”

The service took off right away, with customers from across the media. Glenard explains, “We gave ourselves a target number for the first month saying if we did not achieve it, we would consider that the concept did not work. In addition to the fact that we managed to execute a great product, our customers were from across the media (including a radio DJ who was so enthusiastic she talked about us on air), word of mouth worked in our favour and we were inundated with more customers than we could manage.”

What sets their dabba apart from the rest is that they have a different menu for every day of the month. As Glenard says, “We provide menus from across the international culinary spectrum and some Indian favourites as well and we have dedicated international specials on Fridays including Swedish, Japanese, Burmese and Sri Lankan.” When asked what he thinks is unique about his services he replies, “Everything. No one has managed to achieve the kind of standard we’ve set. It takes equal parts of imagination and hard, hard work to manage the consistent quality LoveLunch has.”

Unfortunately for vegetarians, they don’t have a vegetarian service anymore. He says, “A lot of our international menus didn’t translate to vegetarian. We serve chicken, seafood and mutton, but no pork or beef.”

Their clientele includes expats, working mothers, busy executives, foodies and more. Glenard adds, “We’ve realised that there is a LoveLunch ‘type’ — they know their ingredients, love good food and don’t get swayed by the hype. Some of our customers have been with us from day one.” As for future plans, they hope begin catering soon. So if you’ve got a party coming up and don’t want to sweat it out in the kitchen, you know who to contact.

Cost: `265 per day

Contact: [email protected]


If you’re looking for a dabba service but are worried about health, director and CEO Mridula Agarwal has founded the perfect solution for you. The aim of her food service, SoulCare, is to provide customers with a mix of nourishment and discipline that is necessary to lead a wholesome life.

“Our tiffin services have balanced, healthy and delicious vegetarian food packed with calorie counted items.”

What sets them apart from the rest, other than their balanced, wholesome meals is that they also offer customised yoga sessions for their corporate clients.

“We have an unmatched variety of Northen, Southern, Eastern and Western Indian cuisines coupled with Mexican, Italian and continental cuisine to break the monotony. We promise not to repeat a single menu item till past a fortnight,” says Mridula.

They don’t stop there. They also have corporate catering which includes a filling breakfast, a wholesome lunch,power snacks, tiny bites and the occasional festive delight. And who can forget their customised yoga sessions on office premises. Mridula tells us, “Yoga clears the mind, makes us healthier and yoga at work would mean that employees get less tired, can concentrate better and work faster.”

Cost: `2,528 per month
Contact: 9167206231/32 or visit
Adnan Mithaiwala

(Ezzi Caterers)

Probably one of the oldest tiffin services in the city, Adnan Mithaiwala and his wife Farida started this service14 years back when a woman requested them to send her meals as she wasn’t in the right health condition to cook for herself. The word spread and since then there’s been no looking back for them. The couple supplies one vegetarian, one non-vegetarian dish, rice and chappatis. Their clients mostly include elderly, professionals, shop keepers and paying guests. The meals come straight from the kitchen and hence are hygienic and tasty. “Many services don’t deliver non-vegetarian food, but we do and since it’s homemade we assure it’s hygienic since we eat the same food too,” says Adnan Mithaiwala. “Our USP is that we don’t have a fixed menu so our meals don’t get monotonous. Our menu varies and everyday there’s something new,” he adds. They supply from Bandra to Andheri.
Cost: `80 per meal

Contact: 26488945/ 9224592048

Calorie care
Worried about what you eat and can’t find the right dabba service you can rely on for healthy food? Well then, Calorie Care is a saviour. Having been in the business for over 5 years now, they are the only tiffin service that along with healthy meals also send a tray mat that contains details of the nutritional value of the meals you eat.

They started in 2005, when co-founder Cyrus Driver realised that no matter how much he exercised in the gym, he wasn’t feeling too fit. The reason being lack of healthy food options available. Along with qualified and professional chefs and dieticians, he formed Calorie Care.

Calorie Care serves all kinds of food. “We have the widest menu, with over fifty meals available” says Parinaz Driver, co-founder of Calorie care. She also adds, “We have a lot of options, high proteins for people who want to build their bodies, low and medium calorie for the diet conscious, we also have soups and salad options.”

Asking about their USP, Parinaz says, “The food we supply is scientifically calorie counted and with every meal we serve, we send a tray mat that has the count of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and the number of calories.”

They charge according to per meal but on an average the monthly amount sums up to `3,000 to `4,000 for lunch. They also serve breakfast, dinner and mid day snacks. Most of their clients are health conscious professionals. The good news is that they supply all over the city. From Colaba to Andheri, the meals are delivered in their personal vans. Beyond this area, they have dabbawalas who deliver their delicious food.

Cost: `3,000 to `4,000 a month

Contact: 24122100 or

Operating out of a house in Andheri, this dabba service thinks about its customers more than the financial aspect. Jehangir Bhathena tells us, “There are many old Parsi people who can’t cook anymore but long for home food and many single people with stressful jobs who can’t afford to keep a cook. We decided that it would benefit them if we provide them with authentic home food and started the service.”

They started around 17 years ago and had to work hard to get a loyal following. “It took about a year and a half to set up properly and reach a good standard. It’s paid off because now we even supply to Parsi hospitals and old age homes at subsidised rates.”

What is their USP? “We offer home cooked, hygienic food. I wanted to make sure that 7-year-olds enjoy the food as much as 70-year-olds and it was good for both,” he tells us.

His wife and he cook themselves as he says, “We get up at 4am and by 7.30am all our dabbas are sent out.”

Their dishes include Parsi specialities such as mutton dhansak, patra ni machhi and salli boti along with a host of others. The dabbas include lunch as well as dinner. As for future plans Jehangir shares, “It looks hard now that the cost of everything has increased but one day I’d like to open my own Parsi  restaurant somewhere in the city.”

Cost: `3,200 for a month

Contact: 9869058269/9930298574

HR kitchen
Craving Sindhi delicacies? Try out the food from Rachna Shringhey’s kitchen. Rachna’s small tiffin service has grown into a full fledged business. Rachna says, “The food that I supply is made in my own kitchen and since it’s not commercialised, it has a homely touch to it.” She explains, “I have two kinds of dabbas, a half tiffin and a full. The half has 5 chapatis and one sabzi and the full tiffin includes 4 chapatis, rice, dal, salad, sabzi and a pickle.”

Besides Sindhi, Rachna also makes Chinese and Mexican food. She adds, “Cabbage balls, falafels, shammi kebabs, steam chicken bundles, cream and pepper chicken are some of my most ordered items.” As for future plans she says, “I hope to expand to commercial areas such as Bandra-Kurla Complex and set up mobile tiffin vans.”

Cost: `50 for half and `100 for full tiffin

Contact: 9820343977

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