Growing up in Mumbai, food was a big part of Anshu Ahuja’s life. After eating a new meal at a restaurant, she loved to come home and try cooking it.
Over the past few years, the London resident noticed that people started ordering a lot, which led to a lot of plastic waste. She found the packaging wasteful, greasy, and unrecyclable.
A quest to find a better way to order led to her starting Dabba Drop with Renee Williams in 2018. This is an eco-friendly delivery business inspired by Mumbai's Dabbawalas.
Started in 2018, the venture offers home-cooked Indian and South Asian dabbas (tiffins) to Londoners. People can sign up weekly or fortnightly, and the menus are set for every week.
“You get four freshly-cooked dishes — a salad, a sabzi or dal, a curry, and rice. People can also pause or skip their subscriptions, our system is flexible. We offer vegan and South Asian meals,” says Anshu.
Starting from Anshu’s house, they slowly moved into a kitchen. They’ve grown through word of mouth; and from 150 subscribers when they launched in November 2018, they now have 1,500 today.
“For me, food is a method of expressing myself. Every time I come to Mumbai, one of the trip’s highlights is my mom’s food. The simple rasam and thayir sadam (curd rice) is heavenly. I want to serve this feeling to Londoners,” says Anshu.
All the meals have to be pre-ordered. This way, the duo avoids wastage as the chefs know how many they are cooking for. One dabba can be enjoyed by two people.
The dabbas are delivered on bicycles, e-bikes or other emission-free vehicles. A protective cloth is tied around the dabba which can be reused.
The samosas, rotis and naans are tied in compostable, grease-proof paper, explains Anshu, and the empty dabbas are picked up during the next delivery.
The duo claims to have saved 2,03,370 plastic containers and prevented 2,500 kg of food waste through their venture.