SPORTY BITES

Bindu Gopal Rao
Friday, 3 May 2019

The IPL season is in full swing and restaurants are making the game more exciting by dishing out special menus and offers

I am looking at my table at Monkey Bar in Bengaluru. I am here to experience their Team Spirit menu that offers dishes inspired by IPL teams from Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and New Delhi and a selection of special small plates from Hyderabad, Chennai, Rajasthan and Punjab. 

As I tuck into Gully Bao, a Misal-inspired curried white peas stuffed bao, Farsan, onion and tomato salad, served with spicy rassa, I realise quite quickly why this menu is so popular. Each dish has an interesting twist of flavour that is the perfect accompaniment to the thrilling matches being played. Taco Indians, a crisp fried cottage cheese or chicken with Tomato Salsa, Green Chilli and Peanut Chutney served in a Thepla and Veggie Daredevils, a pan-seared melt-in-the-mouth vegetarian Shami Kebab made from lightly spiced raw jackfruit and lentils, are other winners. 

From Kolkata, you can try Fried Riders — breaded and fried white fish fillet rolls stuffed with curried shrimp and served with a kasundi-spiked salad, or the Pork Powerplay, the hugely popular steamed and pan-fried Kolkata style dumplings. Delhi fans must try the Butter Chicken Bouncer, a chargrilled Chicken Tikka and creamy Makhani-stuffed Spring Roll. The Chennai-inspired Kothu Super King and 65 Not Out, Rajasthan Lal Maas Royals and Skipper Rolls and Murgh of the Match for Punjab fans — all this means there is never a dull moment at your table.

The customers are naturally lapping it all up and with match screenings thrown in, the IPL food juggernaut is certainly on a roll. “IPL is big in Kolkata. We have made this IPL menu keeping in mind the different teams and the food attached to the cities they are named after. We have popular items such as Crunchy Rasogulla (KKR), Bombay Vada Pao (Mumbai Indians), Tangri 65 (Royal Challengers Banglore), Wings BBQ (Chennai Super Kings), Seekh Kebab (Delhi Capitals), Keema Samosa (Sunrisers Hyderabad), Mirchi Pakora (Rajasthan Royals) & Chole Bhautre (Kings XI Punjab). The idea behind the menu was to keep it simple and relatable to the people. Some dishes I have tweaked but things like Vada Pao have been kept as cult classic because as the caption in the menu says, ‘It’s not food, it’s an emotion’,” says Sumeet Raghuvanshi, head chef, White Castle Hospitality that currently owns four brands across Kolkata — M Bar Kitchen, Ozora, Mr. Mozza and The Parking Lot. 

In fact, apart from the food, restaurants are also coming up with offers to match IPL scores. Clement Chettiar, DGM, Hotel Peninsula Red-Pine, says, “To make the whole IPL screening experience more enjoyable, we have more offers and the ambiance is also a mix of chilled golden drinks with some snacks — the way sports lovers like it. Also we have a ‘Predict the Sixes’ gig while the match is being played.” 

Pankaj Dogra, director, food and beverage, Intercontinental Marine Drive, avers, “It is beneficial for both the customers and the restaurant owners as it can keep the place buzzing and even the guests will be getting lot of discount offers. The promotional menu has lots of offers, plus all the items and brands are less expensive and are on discounted rates by the margin of around 25 per cent compared to a la carte menu. Guests are going in groups to enjoy screenings along with food and drinks, which is why the consumer response has been fairly good.” 

Nau Se Barah at Navi Mumbai is currently providing IPL Combos with Beer Bucket + Two Starters and Beer Tower + Two Starters. “An increasing number of people want to watch IPL with their folks — cricket has always been watched in the company of family and friends. So we thought why not provide the perfect place for our customers to watch IPL along with chilled beer and delicious food? The customer response has been great — we have seen more than 50 per cent of our customers going for the IPL menu,” say Monica & Bhavya Raju, founders & directors, Nau Se Barah. 

Contests as well as offers have been added to ensure that people interact and engage with restaurants online. This not only helps in an added word-of-mouth publicity but also incentivises regular food lovers to ask for more and visit their favourite dine outs again. 

Anushree Pacheriwal, co-founder & creative navigator, Gemius, says, “Many restaurants arrange IPL screenings. This helps in gathering the cricket-loving community together and increases the sales. Some restaurants have tried creating IPL theme viewing parties and several fans have flooded those places. Each day is a different experience based on the day’s matches and the winning teams get added benefits.” 

So this IPL season, it is time to hit a six on your table as well.

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