Pop-ups are the redefined form of eating out and experiencing delectable cuisines for our tastebuds. It’s a growing trend in cities, mostly because people are tired of eating the usual restaurant fare. And regional pop ups give them a chance to taste recipes and experience cuisines the way only a local can. Northeast India is yet to catch-up with the popularity of this movement. A local girl hailing from Shillong, along with her friend from Kumaon have started a new venture called “Meraki” and have already done a few pop-up meals in Mumbai, serving cuisines of the hills.
Meraki specializes in cooking up rustic hill food with roots in Meghalaya and Kumaon; using honest whole ingredients with no refined products, no artificial flavours or chemicals nor any shortcuts. They dish out the best delicious hill recipes, which are a combination of the two cultures, Khasi and Kumaoni – the common bond being the sincerity, simplicity, freshness and flavours of the hill cuisines.
The duo first met in 2011, ready to start their corporate careers as Management Trainees in a leading Corporate. Teiskhem (Tei) Lynrah is from Shillong, Meghalaya (an alum of FMS, Delhi) and Pooja Pangtey hails from Kumaon, Uttrakhand (an IIM Lucknow alum). The two bonded over their longing for hills while working in a Metro city and their love for food. They started cooking together, mixing up recipes from their hometowns and inviting friends over for meals on weekends.
With encouragement from friends, they decided to host meals and opened their kitchens to the Bombay folk. Both quit their draining jobs last year and are working on things they hold close to their hearts. But their desire to do something related to their love for cooking never really went away.
The break between jobs gave them a chance to travel together to Kumaon and Shillong and learn more about each other’s cuisines, see the ingredients and gather local recipes. With this renewed vigour, they started Meraki. Meraki ( May-ah-kee) is a Greek word, which means the soul, creativity or love put into something: the essence of self that you put into your work – which is exactly what is projected in their food.
They’ve been feeding Mumbaikars hungry for new flavours with their weekend pop ups, and are all geared up for expanding their services with large scale events and catering. They’ve already made their first batch of Pork and Beef pickles – with the batch being sold out with the pre orders itself!
With a lot of their guest coming through references from previous diners, a good part of their growth has been an organic one – making them two really happy cooks, grateful for the kind of goodwill and word of mouth their food is generating.
Like all dreamers, their dream is to be able to travel to distant small communities and locations in the hills and get a chance to live with the locals, learn about their cuisines and ingredients and come back with new recipes and stories for their City guests. Hopefully they’ll do a pop-up sometime soon at home for us, and give the Shillong fold a chance to experience the food and soul of two beautiful cultures and more.
– Nocy Rangsa Marak
(With major inputs from the duo)