For a country of tea-drinkers, there sure are a lot of coffee shops in my neighbourhood. This is a far cry from the state of affairs when I last worked in India, in 2006. With the exception of the expat managers at Grand Hyatt Mumbai hardly anybody on the team “needed” a morning cappuccino or an afternoon espresso.
I was no different. Even though I never quite took to instant coffee I didn’t know a cappuccino from a cortado, and I was okay with that. Then I moved to another country. Ten years of working with the British, drinking with the Italians and dating Antipodeans got me looking at my morning cup of Joe slightly differently. I understood how milk is textured for a flat white, why the machine needs recalibrating when an espresso is burnt, and that no true Italian would ever touch a cappuccino after lunch. I now love coffee.
I also learned about the business of selling coffee, and a few facts about how this industry was affecting the environment. Facts such as only one in every 1,000 takeaway cups gets recycled. The “paper cups” are actually lined with plastic which needs to be removed before the paper can be pulped – another fact. The fact that after the long journey from coffee plantation to roastery to café to mouth, the takeaway coffee cup is used only for a few minutes before it lies waste in a landfill for a few thousand years.
Back home in India, even as we are just about learning to take away coffee, the Maharashtra government’s new ban on all single use plastic products is forcing us to reconsider this new habit. India Food Network initiated the #JustOneChange campaign to encourage people to kick one environmentally-unfriendly bad habit.
I gave up takeaway coffee and an amazing contingent of chefs, restauranteurs and influencers joined in too. Visit our Instagram & Facebook pages to see the personal pledges by Gauri Devidayal, Harshavardhan Rane, AD Singh, Shagun Mehra, Chalapathi Rao, Shobu Yarlagadda, Vikram Khatri, Pallavi Nigam, Prateek Sadhu, Sadaf Hussain, Ananya Banerjee, Cyrus Todiwala, Rishim Sachdeva, Michael Swamy, Milind Deora, Kamini Patel, Ranveer Brar, Vicky Ratnani, Pankhil Shah, Mallika Basu and Nikhil Merchant. Do watch (and share) our film about spending World Environment Day with Mumbai's street vendors, distributing free paper straws and bamboo spoons to them. We also teamed up with former MP Milind Deora's #QuitPlasticMovement to help spread the message even wider.
I look forward to keeping you updated on the impact our drive has made. Meanwhile, here is me playing favourites with the week that went by…
Giving Leftovers a New Life: Taking our commitment to reducing waste one step further we asked our chefs to inspire us with new ideas for using up kitchen leftovers. From Leftover Masala Roti by everyone's favourite Archana Tai to using up leftover tomato chutney to make a Sindhi Egg Curry by the doyen of Sindhi cooking Veena Gidwani, we have a delicious idea for every time of day. See more recipes here.
Sold on Spice: My favourite recipes of the week however has to be this Dosa Red Chutney by IFN Chef Preetha Srinivasan. The recipe uses both Guntur and Kashmiri chillies and is an explosion of taste on your tongue. Preetha’s channel Dakshin Curry is a treasure trove for anyone who loves food from India's Southern States. If you are a curry leaf lover like me, you won't be disappointed.
Food Forecast: This week we have started a brand new weekly column - Food Forecast by energy intuit, spiritual mentor and counsellor Ellaeenah. Start each Monday with Ellaeenah's advice on how the week's energies should shape your food choices. This week her advice was to opt for fresh, high-energy chow that is light on the stomach. Boy, I wish I had listened!
Midweek Crush: Another new column we began this week is the Midweek Crush. This is our hump day motivation - a food, drink, person or place that we will spend the day crushing on - to make it through to the weekend. This week, all hail the vegan chocolate cake at Farmer's Cafe.