Several people have decided to put the knowledge gained from trips to Italy and their friendships with Italians to good use during this time
Ever watched cooking shows and marvelled at how wonderful fresh pasta looked but baulked at the idea of actually making it? Now, all you need to do is order it in. During the pandemic, several people have decided to put the knowledge gained from trips to Italy and their friendships with Italians to good use by starting food services that supply read-to-cook artisanal pasta. While the idea may have taken concrete form during this time for many, a major factor was that unlike in many places abroad, freshly made ready-to-cook pasta is not readily available in India.
After marriage, Santhaya Subramaniyam lived in Dubai where she had Italian friends. With such expertise at hand, Santhaya too learnt the art of making pasta. “Though we used to make pastas earlier, when the lockdown happened, we tried making many different types because we had the time. I have been a homemaker for a long time and wanted to have a business that was food-related, and so we started Tocco in a small way.” While her husband is a hotelier, her brother is a chef who helps out with orders.
“It’s been two years since we came to Chennai. I searched everywhere but haven’t been able to find fresh pasta,” she says.
Stating that Tocco (meaning feel/touch in Italian) focuses on raviolis — “I like ravioli, as do my children” — Santhaya says that raviolis are a bit harder to find outside 4- and 5-star restaurants.
On average, Tocco gets eight to 10 orders a week. They provide options such as activated charcoal raviolis and spinach and quinoa raviolis with a cream cheese filling, and also try custom orders.
Apart from the ready-to-cook fresh pasta, Tocco also offers DIY pasta boxes that come with cooked raviolis, sauce and parmesan cheese as well as DIY pizza.
WhatsApp 9150869900 or find Tocco on Instagram
Pasta Dal Cuore, Gurugram
Ayesha Seksaria has been making pasta for many years now. Having started it as a fun activity to do with her father when she was younger, she now views it as a destressor. “It’s basically an art. There is a lot of kneading, you have to decide what the ravioli should look like and what the filling should be.”
Adding that she loves going out to eat and specifically to eat fresh pasta, Ayesha says, “During the lockdown when everything was shut, I realised that not many people in India are making fresh pasta. So, I started Pasta Dal Cuore (pasta from the heart in Italian) as a passion project.”
Adding that she has been to Italy and took a short course while there, Ayesha adds, “The menu changes every month. So if one has tried it already, they have something new to try the next month. The first pasta we did was a mushroom and blue cheese ravioli. This time, we have introduced three cheese, caramelised onion and roasted garlic raviolis.”
Since she is also continuing with her job in the fashion industry, she supplies the pasta only on weekends. “I’m doing this on my own. It takes quite some time to get used to making it so I haven’t got around to training anyone yet,” she laughs.
While the number of orders vary, Ayesha says, “I think I made about 1,000 raviolis for a special request for Rakhi!”
WhatsApp 9810577069 or find Pasta Dal Cuore on Instagram
Tara Deshpande Culinary Studio, Mumbai
Soon after her first trip to Italy, actor and author Tara Deshpande returned to New York and took a class at the International Culinary School. Since then she has been making fresh pasta at home and has been supplying it for the last year-and-a-half.
Says Tara, “I used to do it on a very small scale for people who knew me and wanted hand-cut pasta. Then many people started asking us and so we made it part of the menu. There is only a minimum amount we can do because the recipe is for a kilogram.”
On offer are tortellini, fettuccine, tagliatelle and agnolotti. The sauce has to be ordered separately.
Stating that very few people sell fresh pasta in the country, Tara says, “I don’t know anyone selling hand-cut stuffed pastas. There are two ways to do this. One is pasta that is entirely hand-rolled and handcut and then there is pasta for which one can use a hand-cranked machine. But when it comes to stuffed pasta, you have to handcut, hand stuff and hand roll each piece. So, the tortellini and agnolotti are a lot of work; they also have a short shelf life.”
As for whether she has noticed a difference in demand pre and post lockdown, she says, “Yes, a lot of people are ordering now. The stuffed ones are especially popular.”
The Artisanal Pasta Company, Bengaluru
Earlier this year, Harshit Garg was at Erasmus University in the Netherlands, pursuing his Master’s in Economics. However, owing to a financial crunch, he returned to India just as the COVID-19 crisis began.
Racking his brains on what to do next, he first decided to make sourdough bread. When that did not work out, he drew upon his travels and experiences, particularly in Italy. “The first time I had proper ravioli was in Liguria. I then learnt how to make it from my friend’s grandmother.”
At The Artisanal Pasta Company, Harshit handles the cooking and experimenting by himself, waking up at 5 am every day and making 200 raviolis a day on average. “People can order the pasta either with the sauce as a combo or without. As I enjoy cooking so much, I wanted to promote the idea that people should just try cooking. So, for example, if someone orders a spinach and cream cheese ravioli, they have to boil it. Compared to the market pasta which takes 10 to 12 minutes, this takes less than three minutes. The sauce needs to be heated up and I send some fresh parsley and peppercorns to be crushed. The smell is heavenly. These tiny things make it more of an experience.”
WhatsApp 9986656598 or find The Artisanal Pasta Company on Instagram