What does it take to prepare food for thousands of people every day? There are many kitchens in India that do exactly that. Continuing its fascination for structures of huge factories and extreme construction projects, the National Geographic channel will next week telecast a series on mega kitchens in India, with a focus on scale, volume, technology and process.

The series will give viewers a first-hand account of the pressure, precision and purpose required in feeding thousands on a daily basis. The documentaries cover a variety of kitchens, from a temple kitchen in Udupi and one that serves thousands of meals to a fleet of airlines, to kitchens that serve up millions of meals to schoolchildren.

“It was overwhelming to get a first-hand account of the emotion, stress and fun of the people behind these five mega kitchens," Swati Mohan, business head, NGC Networks and FOX International Channels, India, wrote in an email. “The functioning of every kitchen is so different from the other in terms of process, man-power and technology used."

The five-part series features a mix of the sacred and the mundane. There’s an episode on the kitchens run by the Akshaya Patra Foundation that provides government-funded midday meals to schoolchildren. The non-profit organization of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskon) feeds nearly 1.4 million schoolchildren a day, with over 20 kitchens all over India, making it the largest school lunch programme in the world.

At Hubli, Karnataka, Akshaya Patra runs one of its model mega kitchens designed to churn out over 150,000 meals in less than 5 hours. The operation is mind-boggling. Work starts at 4am when workers begin cleaning some 15 tonnes of rice, four tonnes of lentils and 8-9 tones of vegetables. By 8am, hot meals are ready to be loaded into vans and sent to over 1,000 schools in a 100km radius.

Another interesting episode narrates the story of Sri Sai Sansthan Prasadalaya in the small town of Shirdi in Maharashtra. The unique solar-powered kitchen prepares nearly 40,000 meals every day, a number that almost doubles on holidays. Then there is the kitchen at Dharmasthala Manjunatha temple in Karnataka, 75 km from Mangaluru, which claims to be the largest and oldest family-run temple kitchen in India, and feeds around 50,000 devotees every day, which doubles on festivals. The other two episodes explore the kitchens of TajSATS Air Catering Ltd, which runs the biggest flight catering services in India, and IRCTC, which provides food to thousands of railway passengers.

India’s Megakitchens will air on 22, 23, 24, 29 and 30 June, on National Geographic, at 10pm.

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