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Indians are splurging on immunity-boosting meals amid growing fears of contracting covid-19.

Those who are either isolating or home quarantining are also focusing on building strength and immunity through wholesome food delivered by hospitality chains and home chefs.

Indian Hotels Co. Ltd, the operator of the Taj Group of hotels, through its home delivery service Qmin, has introduced Innergise, a special menu featuring fresh and natural meals packed with antioxidants and immunity-boosting superfoods. These menus are designed in consultation with experts from Arya Vaidya Sala, Kottakkal, and made using immunity-boosting herbs, spices and other ingredients. Arya Vaidya Sala is a Kerala-based chain of institutions that offers Ayurvedic treatments and products.

The Innergise menu boxes, delivered at home, are priced at 1,500 plus taxes for an individual meal (serves two), while a three-day subscription plan is priced at 4,000 plus taxes. It is available from Taj’s restaurants in Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Cochin.

“With a majority of the population working from home, there’s also a demand for healthy, wholesome meals on an everyday basis," said a company spokesperson.

ITC Hotels, too, is working on a special wellness menu for home deliveries by mid-May. “The menu will include dishes like raw turmeric, vegetables, ragi/jowar bread and amla (Indian gooseberry) drinks. We will ensure the food has zero preservatives and is sourced from local organic farms," said Manisha Bhasin, corporate chef, ITC Hotels.

Apart from hotels, consumers, who have active covid-19 cases and are home quarantining, are reaching out to home chefs who are doing hyperlocal deliveries.

A brand management professional, Bhavna Hariharan, who tested positive for covid-19, has been ordering home-cooked food from a Mulund-based catering service, The Chopping Board. “The food was well cooked in less oil and spice, keeping sick people in mind," she said.

“A bunch of clients came requesting food that will keep them satiated for long as they felt hungry often. Others wanted a good meal despite not being able to taste anything. There is a demand for comfort food from covid patients like curd rice, idlis, khichri-kadhi and mix vegetables," said Pratik Nair, co-founder of The Chopping Board.

Nair services eight to 10 orders a day.

Delhi-based family-run catering service Kitchen108, started by home chefs Nataraju and Punita—who go by one name—in September 2020, is providing home-cooked vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. “There is a clear demand for proteins (chicken dishes), green vegetables (bottle gourd) and rasam," said Nataraju.

The challenge is to turn this into a sustained business model, said Pradeep Shetty, joint honorary secretary, Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India.

“The food business has suffered a lot during the pandemic, so it is a challenge to create another segment of immunity-boosting product/service. Frankly speaking, nothing much has worked out in terms of selling through hotels or restaurants. Maybe for home chefs, it may work out but not for big establishments."

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