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After two years of writing about food and eating out greedily, I’ve recently started budgeting my dining out expenses and the biggest cuts so far have been on my trips to food festivals, pop-ups and flea markets. Believe it or not, I end up spending a lot more in a few hours at these events than on a weekend of eating and drinking at new restaurants and bars. The fear of not sampling everything on offer and acquainting myself with the latest food trends results in me leaving with jars of homemade pickles and jams and a tummy-full of (mostly) substandard snacks and baked goods by home-based chefs.
Given the venue – the House of Tales gallery in Kala Ghoda’s quaint VB Gandhi Marg behind Rhythm House – I assumed it would be like any other exhibition-cum-sale of dips, desserts and assorted nibbles made by first-time exhibitors in small batches at their homes. I didn’t get the first-time exhibitor peddling homemade food bit wrong but I was so wrong about the kind of food I assumed they were going to sell. Actually, none of the participants were selling any eatables at all. Stappu’s event was a ticketed affair where visitors (limited to 50 in number) could sample as much food, drink and dessert as they liked and take home details on how to place orders through the start-up’s Facebook page and eventually their e-commerce website.
We also picked up a bruschetta-style toast with a “Amma’s Mutton” topping by one of our favourite home-based food entrepreneurs, Sneha Nair of Poppadum, who specializes in hosting guests for Malayali meals at her home. She was sharing her table with self-trained cook Gaurang Bailoor, who conducts cooking classes in partnership with Stappu. We were most impressed by the two dishes he brought to the table: A cauliflower pate on a bed of mushroom marmalade on a brown toast, which reminded us of Heston Blumenthal’s meaty mains disguised as dessert and an hors d’oeuvre of homemade, lemongrass-flavoured chicken sausage with pumpkin slivers, topped with a red pepper and cardamom sauce.
Eventually, Stappu (hopscotch is popularly known as Stappu in north India, according to Tyagi and Khosla) will diversify into various other forms of goods and services. The idea is that Stappu’s monthly events help familiarize the city with the city’s hidden population of talented cooks, bakers, painters, artists, performance artists, musicians, designers and pretty much anyone who wants to sell or offer their wares or services alongside the company’s strictly curated assortment of sellers. Tyagi and Khosla, both in their mid-twenties, tell us that Stappu will be a bit like e-commerce portal Etsy but they will keep close tabs on who gets featured on the website through stringent checks and whetting procedures.
For more details, to shop for food or to book services and for information on upcoming events, visit here.
This weekly series, which appears on Tuesdays, looks at what’s new with food and drink, and how we are interacting with it.