We are always writing about trending food stories from various restaurants in our cities. We talk about the taste of the food, the celebrated pop-ups, extraordinary chefs and many more. How often do we come across initiatives with regard to food which will not only satiate our taste buds but will also melt our hearts? The city of joy has seen two of such enterprising visions which have culminated into food business with a social cause.
Cafe ICanFlyy, which is a brainchild of mother and daughter duo, Minu Budhia and Preeyam Budhia recently opened in Ballygunge, bang opposite Maddox Square, with a means to provide a platform for earning and self-development for young adults with special needs. By special needs, we mean down syndrome, autism, dyslexia and any other kind of mental health issues. As you enter the cafe, the first thing you notice and it probably hits you is the positive energy around the place. It has a very cheerful and colourful ambience. The cafe is run by young adults with special needs. There are a total of 7 of them either in service or in the kitchen, in areas where they do not have to deal with fire. The age group is between 15 and 32. There is a wall stacked with goodies from the food factory and the crafts factory. The food factory has packaged products like Makhana, Baked Crackers, Roasted Chidwa, some Dips and Sauces, a variety of Breads, Chocolates, Cookies and so on. The crafts factory has some cute and some quirky yet useful products like paper bags, cloth bags, colourful kettles, tea cups, gift tags, handmade envelopes, storage boxes and the likes. And all of these products are hand crafted by these special individuals.
The food has been kept reasonably simple - nothing fancy, nothing out of the world but is nevertheless, delicious. The menu has a selection of coffees in both Hot and Cold, some thick Shakes, Thirst Quenchers, Finger Foods, Pizzas, Pastas, Maggi and Wai Wai made in different ways, Sandwiches, Omelettes and the likes. The Cutting Chai is presented in small kettles with a chai glass on the side. Cheese Garlic Maggi with an option of Chicken is a hot favourite of the cafe. The Pizzas are thin crust and have a very homemade effect; hence can safely say are pleasant and appealing. Their signature dessert is called Caprese - a basil sponge with tomato confit, white chocolate, mozzarella, and mascarpone mousse and is a must-have. It is bountiful of flavours in bite size and even though you can try an array of desserts from pancakes to brownies and danish, this is the one dish which needs to be tried. It comes in different bright colours every day and is packed with flavours which explode in your mouth.
Must try dish: Barbeque Chicken Poppers and Caprese
Shuktara means 'the morning star' and like the star, this particular enterprise located in Behala spreads light and happiness in areas where there is nothing but darkness. Here we are talking about enabling physically and mentally disabled young adults, who are also financially underprivileged and most of them from very backward society or from the streets. It is a bakery with recipes from a French Patisserie being run by these individuals and you will be stunned at the level of expertise that they have in baking, packaging and managing the show. These individuals are challenged by hearing impairment, cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities. They were trained by French restaurateur Alain Cojean and executive pastry chef of Fauchon in Paris, Fabien Rouillard; who were the founders of Shuktara cakes which not only provides vocational training but also a means to earn a livelihood.
They started out in 2013 and as of now, they only provide products on advance order. They are yet to open in the retail or cafe format due to logistical issues. And their products are simply fabulous. They specialise in a variety of cakes, financiers and madeleines. They also do eggless recipes for a large clientele. Their production is at peak form during Christmas each year. The bakers are working for 5 hours every day during the winters. Orange and Poppy Seed Cake, Caramel Chocochip Cake, Almond Financiers, Chocolate Financiers, Chocochip Madeleines, Regular Ones, Chocolate Madeleines in regular as well as mini size are few of their products and the quality of the ingredients used are par excellence which clearly comes out in the taste.
Must try cakes: Almond Financier/ Orange and Poppy Seed Cake/Chocochip Madeleine
For someone who's run two restaurants, being a baker and cook par excellence comes easily to Madhushree . When she's not eating out, she's organizing her own pop ups or experimenting with regional recipes. Her experiments with food and her recipes are part of Pikturenama , where she's a co founder.