It’s part of a fun foodie tradition for people to head out with family and friends on iftar trails in the city. The idea is to stroll around post sunset, catch the late evening vibes and of course, tuck into delicious traditional savouries and sweets. But in these times, many are still hesitant to step out and others find that don’t have the bandwidth of time to spare, so they have to give the outdoor iftar experience a miss. But that doesn’t mean skipping on having the iftar food entirely. Restaurants and home chefs are stepping in to fill the void by creating special iftar boxes with foods that are delivered home. And it’s translating into a successful business idea!
‘It’s about ease and taste and makes for a good business idea’
Iftar boxes win for several reasons – they’re neatly packaged, allow you to have it in your own home and at your time and in many instances, you can customise them as you like. Rabia Patel, who belongs to family of Biryani King, Jaffer Bhai Mansuri, says, “We started doing iftar boxes since a few years and they are in huge demand every Ramzan. In fact, they have become the USP of the month with so many people across communities, enjoying it. It’s about ease and taste and makes for a good gifting idea as well.”
Chef Anees Khan of Star Anise Patisserie, who started making the iftar boxes since 2020, also affirms the rising demand for these. He says, “We have a daily changing menu, which is posted on Instagram as everyone is on social media now. The flavours are from across the globe with dishes such as Arabic muhammra and harissa-based dishes, hummus, veg and non-veg shawarmas, Chinese dishes and Italian crepes and lasagnas. These are flavours that many know and accept as we have such a diverse group of people wanting to try iftar.”
Creative boxes and ‘iftar thalis’ grab attention
This idea gained steam last year in the pandemic and it’s got even more creative now. You find iftar boxes to suit every budget – starting with the basics that include dates, an appetiser, cut fruits and a sweet and it goes up. ITC Grand Central Mumbai has swung into the trend with caringly selected delights for iftaari via Ruhaniyat by Gourmet Couch. In this, patrons choose from an iftar meal for two, four or six people and one can add dishes to it such as seekh gilafi dum pukht, galouti kebab, saffron vermicelli and more. Rakesh Ramola, F&B manager, ITC Grand Central, shares why they went for the curated preparations. He says, “We have seen a rising demand for customisable iftar meal boxes. What makes it easy it that guests just choose to order the iftar meal boxes from the comfort of their home and we ensure a safe and sound doorstep delivery to protocols.”
In an interesting take on the trend, there’s now even an iftari thalli! If you have had a Rajasthani or seafood Malvani thaali, this one by Taftoon, BKC restaurant works on the idea of a iftar-theme with dishes having regional flavours. Bowls of tabak maaz and rogan josh meet such as biryani, paneer qualiya, the Kashmiri baquerkhani bread and desserts like shufta, kulfi and more. It takes the iftar into a meal and seems to be apt for a gathering at home.
‘Iftar box has done more business than our catering’
Home chef Kausar Parihar who runs a catering business shifts her work to creating iftar boxes in Ramzan through Gulmutfaa Food. She shares, “This iftar box does better business than catering as we have got a great response so far. The box has dates along with starters like kulfi chicken drumsticks which is white-sauce based preparation wrapped in silver foil, box pattice (square-shaped pattice), cigar rolls made of chicken and tandoori samosas. Everyone wants something different in their iftar boxes and we decided to create that list of unique items before the month of Ramzan started. Many people like the idea of the food being different each day and what is heartening is that those who are not fasting are also buying the boxes.”
Mini malpuas and other traditional desserts get into iftar boxes, too
When you think of iftar sweets you may think of malpuas and faloodas at street food stalls and this time they’re making their way into iftar boxes. Chef Navid Akhtar of Meetha by Radisson, says the idea flew to success once they conceptualised it. “We found a large part of the clientele asking for special sweets in Ramzan and thus we came up with this idea of having a box dedicated to it. At first, we thought it should be just firnis, but then we felt rabris must also be part of it well as malpua, which is so popular anyway. The dessert hampers have a mix of all these. You have six stuffed date varieties, six mithais -milk and dry fruit based, six mini eggless malpuas topped with nuts, three firnis, three lacchedar rabdis in kullad pots and one traditional savoury just to blend with the box and break the taste of sweetness,” he informs.