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Marinades to DIY for – mumbai guide

Food: Flavourful
Packaging: Smart
Cost: Reasonable
Verdict: 2/5

From cooking up large meals that will last a few days, to ordering-in to tackle the ever-piling dishes, food, for many young working professionals in the past seven months, has been a means to an end — sustenance to get by. Although we’re no fans of store-bought dal makhani and prawn curry mixes, we’ve found ourselves reaching out for the packages to juggle work deadlines. So, when we learnt that chef Richard Dias, who ran Bandra Pali Naka’s much-loved Thai Ban, has started his own marinated meats delivery service, we were keen to find out if it could be the WFH time-saver we were looking for.

Chicken vindaloo, chimichurri chicken, tuna fish yakitori, Thai chilli garlic basil pomfret, Cajun spiced prawns, and dill and lemon rubbed snapper — we were happy to note the diversity in Masala Marke’s menu. They deliver in and around Mumbai, and according to their social media page, one only needs to fry, bake or pan-sear the nearly-cooked dishes.

Sweet and sour prawns
Sweet and sour prawns

The chicken segment alone has around 25 dishes, with options to pick meals with eight pieces of whole poultry, 1 kg of leg and breast pieces, and 1 kg boneless pieces. The seafood portion is divided into tuna (1 kg), prawns (250 gms with 40 pieces), red snapper (200 gms) and pomfret (200/180 gms, whole or fillet). We settle for eight pieces of rosemary scented chicken (Rs 350), Mediterranean snapper marinade (Rs 450) and sweet and sour prawns (Rs 950).

The order is delivered the next day in a reusable bag. For the chicken and prawn dishes, the pre-seasoned meat and the gravy are neatly packaged in separate plastic pouches in two portions, further tucked into labelled containers to avoid spillage. The fish and sauce are packaged together in one stapled pouch and then, into a dabba. In the mood for some fish, we empty the contents into a heated pan with just a drizzle of water to avoid burning the gravy. It takes about 10 minutes to cook the fish, during which we steam rice. Spiced with bell peppers, the hot and tangy gravy is complemented by the melts-in-your-mouth snapper. The dish, we find, pairs well with rice and a glass of rosé, and is perfect to wrap up a busy Sunday.

Rosemary scented chicken
Rosemary scented chicken

Initially, we found it amusing that the chicken and prawn marinades — both fit to serve at least three people — were divided into two portions. But when we dug out the marinades for a mid-work lunch the next day, we realised it allows one to cook in small portions, saving us the hassle of
packing leftovers.

Lost for instructions, we call up the deli, and chef Dias guides us. The prawn, he tells us, can be fried for a few minutes in the pan, or in an egg-salt-pepper batter first, and then added to the gravy. We opt for the pan-fry, and cook the chicken without the gravy simultaneously. Dias suggests that one can also roast the chicken in a pre-heated oven. The garlic-y aroma of the prawns helps work up an appetite and the dish is ready in about 10 minutes, while the chicken takes a bit longer.

The marinated meats and gravies are packed separately in well-sealed pouches and tucked into labelled delivery containers
The marinated meats and gravies are packed separately in well-sealed pouches and tucked into labelled delivery containers

Unlike most sweet and sour gravies that veer towards sweeter notes, the tangy appeal of the prawn marinade and the crunchy garlic bits hit the right spot. We added only a little bit of the gravy to the cooked rosemary chicken as it was slightly salty, but balanced it out with some leftover steamed rice that we tossed in butter. Although top-notch in taste, the meals have a light, homely quality and are a quick fix to power through a busy day. The gravies, which can be stored for a few days, can also be saved to toss with leftover veggies. But we can’t help wishing there was some red meat on the menu. Are you listening, chef?

Call 8605258605 to place your order at least a day in advance
Log on to Masala Marke on Facebook

4/5 Exceptional, 3/5 Excellent, 2/5 very Good, 1/5 Good, 0.5/5 Average. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals

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