7 Culinary Queens Are Changing The Indian Food Industry — Meet The Foodpreneurs

Food and India are entwined in a beautiful web of delicacies and condiments. Check out these 7 foodpreneurs in the Indian food industry.

India’s condiments are worldly famous. Be it the achaar or Chicken Tikka Masala- people across the globe have fallen in love with our curries and tangy spices. As Indian food is gaining well-deserved popularity, these female foodpreneurs in the Indian food industry are whipping up their magic. 

These foodpreneurs don’t generally limit themselves to traditional delicacies — they are experimental with the kind of foods they prepare. These foodpreneurs are one of a kind. While one of them is a Michelin Star chef, one of them brought Italy to India.

So, let us hop on the train of delicious delicacies and talented foodpreneurs!

Ritu Dalmia

Have you ever heard of an untrained chef with seven fine dining restaurants across Delhi and London? Ritu Dalmia, the celebrity chef, brought Italian cuisine to India. 

Dalmia’s love for Italian food emerged on her trip to Italy in her teens. It was then Dalmia decided that she wanted to bring Italian food to India. So, in 1993, she opened a restaurant named Mezzaluna in Delhi. 

Unfortunately, the restaurant didn’t work, but her dream of bringing Italy to India never died. In 2000, after more experience, she opened her restaurant Diva in Delhi. 

Anahita Dhondy

Anahita Dhondy, the chef manager of Soda Bottle Openerwala, is one of the most famous chefs pan-India. Dhondy, featured in Forbes’ 30 under 30 lists, has grown up with food around her. 

Hailing from Delhi, in Dhondy’s Parsi household, food was always a part of her life. At ten, she started helping her mother cater and bake cakes. That was when Anahita knew she wanted to become a chef.

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After graduating in culinary arts from IHM- Aurangabad, Dhondy acquired a Grande Diplome from Le Cordon Bleu, London. She even trained at Taj properties and JW Marriott.

Anahita returned to India at 23 and started working at Soda Bottle Openerwala as a chef manager. Now, Soda Bottle Openerwala has become Dhondy’s second home. She mixes up her mother’s recipes and spices in the kitchen.

Pooja Dhingra

In the last decade, macarons- a French dessert- have been the talk of the town. Well, all the credits for introducing macarons to India go to Pooja Dhingra, who opened India’s first macaron store- Le 15 Patisserie

A chef from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, Pooja Dhingra, got into the art of baking at the mere age of six. Her aunt was her hype woman and encouraged her to cook. Moreover, as a teenager, Dhingra dreamt of opening a cafe.

When Dhingra started Le15 in 2009, she knew she had to do something different- thus, she introduced pastel colours and French confectionaries. These intrigued people, and that’s how Pooja Dhingra, a 23-year-old with a bag of French experiences, introduced macarons to India- and we love it!

Kainaz Contractor

It is amazing to see people from different fields in the food industry succeed. Another such person is Kainaz Contractor, a food writer who became a restauranter. 

While Kainaz always wanted to run her restaurant, she decided to learn the ins and outs of a restaurant before trying her hand at actually running one!

Things looked great for Kainaz when she was one of the three non-hotel management graduate trainees in the Taj Group Hotels. After Kainaz’s training, she worked as a food writer at several companies. 

When Kainaz decided to open her first restaurant- Rustom’s Parsi Bhonu, in Delhi, she realised there was a gap in Parsi cuisine in Delhi. Thus, in 2014, she started Rustom’s with her partner (who was also a trainee with her), Rahul Dua, and she hasn’t looked back since. 

Garima Arora

Garima Arora paved the way for female chefs in the Indian food industry after she won a Michelin award as a young chef. This Michelin awardee now has a restaurant named Gaa that focuses on Thai cuisine in Bangkok. 

For Garima, her dad is one of her biggest influences as he taught her how to cook and ignited her love for cooking. However, Garima didn’t want to be a chef. In fact, she studied to pursue journalism. Moreover, she worked as a journalist for a bit before she realised she didn’t have a passion for it. 

So, at 21, Arora went to Le Cordon Bleu, Paris. There, after polishing her work, she worked with several famous chefs, namely Gordon Ramsey and René Redzepi. After getting ample experience, she moved to Bangkok- opened the restaurant Gaa, and the rest is history. 

Tarla Dalal

Tarla Dalal was possibly one of the most influential chefs of India in the 80s. While the rest of the foodpreneurs in this list are contemporary chefs, Tarla Dalal was probably one of their inspirations to take up cooking as a career. 

Posthumously, Dalal is a celebrity on YouTube with her amazing Indian recipes. You can check out her channel here

With over 170 cookbooks under her name, Dalal became a household name, with housewives swearing by her recipes. Moreover, Tarla Dalal gave an Indianised vegetarian touch to most non-vegetarian dishes. She was truly a legend. 

Asma Khan

Asma Khan; Darjeeling Express, London

Finally, we have another journalist turned chef- Asma Khan. Her story is interesting- Khan worked as a journalist before she moved to the UK with her husband in 1991. 

Khan eventually got fed up with British food. That’s when she came to India, learned her mother and grandmother’s recipes and decided to open an Indian restaurant in London — Darjeeling Express

Now, as a celebrity chef and after her featuring on Netflix, Asma Khan continues to bring Indian cuisine to light. One of her favourite dishes — Biryani — is a fan favourite! Most of her recipes are deep-rooted in her family traditions. 

Khan has made a brand out of Darjeeling Express, and this restaurant is one of the most famous restaurants in London. 

These seven women in the Indian food industry have made their mark across borders. Just as food brings cultures together, these women have brought several cultures in and out of India.

Do you know more such foodpreneurs who are chefs kiss, literally? Let us know in the comments!

Image Source: Omyim1637 via Getty Image, free on Canva Pro

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About the Author

Pranjali Hasotkar

I am a journalism student with a penchant for writing about women and social issues. I am an intersectional feminist and an aspiring journalist. I identify as she/her. read more...

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