No matter how good a home-cook you are, I can bet that you’ve wondered why your food doesn’t turn out to be “restaurant quality.” Of course, professional chefs have the training, tools and skills required – but what about the ingredients? Do they have an edge on ingredients too?
Food Service India is a part of the VKL group – a company that started out as spice traders in Kerala and now brings state-of-the-art products to all segments of the food industry through integrated ingredient solutions. The products have been conceptualized and perfected by chefs who understand the world behind restaurant kitchen doors and are aimed the HORECA (hotels, restaurants, caterers) industry.
I was invited to understand how restaurant-quality food manages to give us the “OMG SO GOOD” feels time after time, with a behind-the-scenes lunch for 5 bloggers in Mumbai!
Like on-the-job counselors, chefs in the Food Service India kitchen sit with restaurants chefs to discuss the best ways to undertake a menu expansion, revamp or even to build an entirely new menu. They offer demos and assist their counterparts in the F&B industry in conceptualizing dishes using the products offered by the company.
Food Service India has 5 brands with a massive array of products and launch new ones every month! These are Springburst (seasoning with no MSG added, mixes and broth), Chef’s Art (herb sprinklers, chicken glaze and marinade, pizza and pasta dough and masalas), Sunbay (gravy bases), Marimbula (fruit syrups) and Spicefield (spice powders, masalas, and seeds). Never heard of them? Me neither!
I had the opportunity to taste at least 6 mocktails and indulge in a 5 course meal made by the team at Food Service India and I can’t express how blown away I was with what was served.
Like all FSIPL’s labels, I’d never heard of Marimbula. But the brand is the secret behind the exceptional cocktails and mocktails we’ve had at restaurants and pubs around the country. Marimbula offers a diverse range of Indian and international gourmet syrups – over 50 of them – all handpicked by mixologists and blended to perfection with 30% fruit concentrate. These syrups are the reason behind consistently flavoured drinks.
Think about it – if you’ve ever ordered a watermelon cooler twice at the same restaurant, it wouldn’t be identical. Watermelons differ – some are sweeter than others and they all have varying water content. Using a syrup eliminates the inconsistency and delivers a taste that you’d never guess wasn’t a 100% real watermelon. I tried two non alcoholic sangrias (I know… how can a sangria be non alcoholic when it’s essentially only wine?) Well, this one was. Just 20 ml of Marimbula, some juice and other ingredients were used to create it. The taste – the smell – everything was EXACTLY like real wine. Only, without the buzz!
The flavours range from paan to orange, saffron to coconut fudge, tamarind to white chocolate, vanilla to salted caramel, pomegranate, peach, mojito mint, roasted hazelnut, banana, black forest.. the list is simply endless! And each one is better than the next! This refreshing drink was the Berry Tea Cooler.
Sachin, the mixologist demonstrated how bartenders use syrups to whip up mocktails and every time a new mocktail was ready, we couldn’t believe how amazing it was. Trust me, I’ve had more than my share of Virgin Pina Coladas and NONE of them beat or will top the one I had at the Food Service India demo bar.
I have to tell you about their paan syrup! I absolutely hate paan. The smell is an absolute put-off. When Sachin the mixologist made us a paan mocktail, I did put my disgust aside and sipped it! I was glad I did because it was beautifully fragrant without being overpowering and tasted absolutely divine! I was a little disappointed that we all had merely a sip, but drinking so many mocktails entirely wasn’t really practical.
Coming to the food, the FSIPL chefs brought out dish after dish and explained to us the products that went into it. The kathi roll was made using their tomato-onion paste and masalas, and the fries had been sprinkled over with Piri Piri seasoning. I was amazed to learn how simple it was! And how delicious!
Here’s the fried chicken! All the chef did was marinate the chicken overnight. But for that delicious crispy batter we all love, it was their packaged flour and Cajun breaded mix. Simply dip the chicken in the flour, dust it, dip in cold water, repeat and fry. He did it in 5 minutes and the dish looked like he’d been slaving over it for hours!
Oh My Goodness, how we drooled over those sauces! Would you ever guess that the mango-jalapeno dip and that rich ‘Green Goddess” sauce is mayonnaise based? Yup! A bowl of mayo, 5 grams of seasoning and a good stir is all it takes. The mango and jalapeno were as strong as if it had been made using fresh mango and jalapeno. And who would guess that behind that dark green colour is a bowl of mayo! Looks may deceive, but taste wise, it was spot on!
Next came the chipotle and mushroom soup with a white sauce base. The chef re-branded it as ‘Cappuccino’ and served it in a mug. All he used was white cappuccino, special aromatic mix and chipotle seasoning. Guys! The warmth and comfort that soup gave us all was like a blanket on a cold day! And taste-wise, like everything else, was unparallel!
For the vegetarians, he whipped up a little fusion dish called Makhini Risotto using Makhani sauce. A strange combination, but boy, did it work! The creaminess and tangy tomato flavour came through in every bite and it was all done with sauces and seasonings!
The dish of the day, and one that had me and Neha (Everything On A Plate) in 7th heaven was quinoa and seabass with lemon butter dressing. Again, chef explained how he used his seasonings, spices and mixes to create this masterpiece that had everyone licking their plates and raving about long after dessert was over.
Lastly, dessert was served! Red Lava Cake and Payassam Lava cake were up for grabs. What was used to create it? Well a cake mix and water. That’s it! Look at that lava go! I haven’t had cake like this since… well… ever!
We ended the meal with Sachin making us 3 non-alcoholic Spiced Thai shots each! Watermelon and Ginger, Tamarind and Orange with chaat masala and cumin spice and chaat masala with salt and coke! You probably know how I’d rate it by now! Delish, delish, delish!!! The watermelon shot was super refreshing while the tamarind shot was good enough to put into a pani puri! The cumin one, we all agreed, was even better than jaljeera!
It’s rare, very rare, that I don’t have a single bit of negative feedback for the range of Food Service India’s products. In fact, I wish it was available to the public so you could experience it yourself. How amazing would it be to make those dips in 2 minutes and say that you made them from scratch!
The next time you go to Dominos, Hoppipola, CCD, or literally any of 6500 restaurants around the country, know that Food Service India has a huge part to play in the food you’re eating. The only product available for consumers is Marimbula, the fruit syrups that are available in 200ml bottles on Amazon. To taste all their products first hand, we’ll all have to open our own restaurants! Oh well, more incentive to do so!
Hope you enjoyed this post! Comment below and let me know what you think. Bye!