Return of the Desi - nice read

Damodar Mall
Published: 16, Jan 2014

‘Born to be a grocer’ has a different meaning for me. After the traditional career track of IIT, IIM and Hindustan Unilever, I was going to be a grocer, much to my family’s disbelief. Selling ‘daal-chawal’ as a chosen vocation for the educated son was not their idea of smart choices. I wasn’t alone. I walked down the path with R K Damani of D Mart and Kishore Biyani of Big Bazaar, both avid customer observers and business creators by betting on the Indian consumer. Customer observation and insight hunting is now an instinct with me, after over a decade of consistent aisle running in all parts of the world. To my wife’s delight I love visiting stores, but much to her chagrin, I equally love chasing women customers to see what they are buying! Food, brands and retail, my vocation, catches everyone’s fancy. I’ve stirred up some recent excitement for myself shaping food stores for different ends of the market spectrum including upmarket Foodhall and now Fresh produce led neighbourhood store RelianceFresh, etc. I’m excited by various cuisines, languages and recently, learning to play music. But through all my adventures, one thing has stood by me always, a good cup of masala chai! Meet me @SupermarketWala


Image: Shutterstock

Here’s an interesting read that I came across. It says, eateries and fine dine restaurants with regional specialist cuisines are becoming increasingly popular in large cities. I have always believed that in India, one man’s tradition is another man’s modernity – appams are exotic special foods in my rajasthani household but grandma’s traditional cuisine in my malyaali neighbour’s home.

Another interesting point Aalok Wadhwa the author of the piece makes is that with depreciation of the Rupee, imported ingredients and expats chefs have gotten more expensive! Come to think of it, it would be easier to get a Bengali chef to Gurgaon than someone who knows Moroccan cuisine. The insight is, for the upmarket discerning patrons in Gurgaon, Bengali food is as exotic as Moroccan! What do you think?

For full article click here

  • Prashant V J

    Yes it’s true - “one man’s tradition is another man’s modernity”! This can be attributed to human nature, a BCB cycle: - BORED of what we have, and - CURIOUS to know what others have, - we can also BRAG about it after having what others have. The journey of the humble pav bhaji, from the affordable street food for mill workers or the only available food for the night shift taxi drivers of Mumbai to the menu of star hotels, is truly remarkable. The discerning patrons of the star hotels wanted a taste of this novel dish, but in a hygienic and upmarket environment. So the top chefs dished out pav bhaji to cater to this need. Now Mumbai’s pav bhaji is available across the world. In India the popularity of food mostly depends on affordability and as such it moves from masses to classes. Imported ingredients and expat chefs have always been expensive in India. Glocalization is the solution. The Indianization of Chinese food by the Chinese in Chinatown, Kolkata is a great example. By substituting some of the Chinese ingredients with Indian spices they made it affordable. And by transforming it from bland to oily and spicy they made it widely acceptable. Now Kolkata’s Indian Chinese food is available across the world. But “Chicken Manchurian” or “Gobi Manchurian” are not available in any restaurant in China serving authentic Chinese food. Maybe Moroccan or Japanese cuisines need a Nelson Wang to make them wildly popular in India. Nelson Wang from Chinatown, Kolkata, is the inventor of Chicken Manchurian in India, and is also credited for making “Indian Chinese food” aka Chinese food, all the rage across India.

    on Apr 11, 2014