It’s heartening to realise how the pandemic, morbid as it was, serendipitously created home chefs out of many quarantined citizens who had a flair for cooking. Some already were on a culinary journey while for others, it started as anything but a means of income.
As is the case with Sabrina Singh of MAH or Made at Home, a home-run catering service in North Goa that was born out of the helplessness of the lockdowns.
But before we dive into the interesting tale of taste, here is what you need to immediately know. MAH serves up some amazingly delicious food that includes not just Indian cuisines like Rajasthani, Manipuri, and Punjabi, but also Continental, Maldivian and Sri Lankan fare too! Now if that is not a drool-worthy tidbit of information then I don’t know what is. And now onwards with Sabrina’s story. It all started, as mentioned above, with the pandemic.
“Having started to provide meals to some drivers from out of town stranded in Goa, I went on to answer distress calls from some friends of friends who had moved to Goa just before the lockdowns and now needed food since their kitchens were not yet set up. But restaurants were unfortunately shut for weeks.” She continues her reminisces, “This made me realise there was a need I could easily fill from the comfort of my own home and kitchen AND if I could make money from it, I could continue to give back to the community by feeding those in need, the migrants, the orphanage or anyone in need of a meal or two in tough times.”
Sabrina’s husband, an architect by profession, rallied around her with his full support.
“Though I sometimes suspect he was just relieved to have a restless wife out of his hair and busy with something to do during the lockdowns!” she laughs before continuing with her story of how MAH Kitchen was born.
“MAH is Made At Home, by me, with love. For me, food is love-made edible! “
This is evident with the fact that to date Sabrina donates every penny she makes to charity!
Along the way as life limped back to normal after the worst was over, MAH was registered, licences were obtained and then there was no looking back. Despite no publicity or marketing but by sheer word of mouth, or rather a taste of mouth as she puts it, word spread about her incredible cooking.
From a Greek Moussaka to Seeni Sambol ( caramelized sliced onions with Maldivian dried fish and prawn seasoning, SLURP!) a Jaffna mutton Curry to a Naga Pork Curry, or a Tuna Tostadas to a Dhaba Kheema Matar or even the soul comforting taste of Rajma Chawal, MAH’s Kitchen has flavours celebrating global diversity on your tongue!
A lover of many cuisines, Sabrina is hard pressed to select any one favourite.
“I love too many cuisines, Italian, Mexican, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean and closer to home its Bengali, North-eastern etc. I am a die-hard foodie,’ she admits sheepishly.
When asked which dishes are her family’s and customers’ favourite, Sabrina reveals that her family loves pretty much everything she cooks. But customers usually swear by her Rajasthani Laal Maas, Moussaka and Kolkata Biryani.
In fact, though a simple home-cooked Dal Bhaji Raita Roti combo is what she started with when feeding those in need, her journey as a Home Chef began with Kolkata Biryani, a dish that quickly became and remained a best seller.
With so much talk about taste, I wondered who inspired her in this journey of gastronomic excellence. As is with so many of us in India, her mother was her biggest inspiration she says without hesitation. But also adds that the culinary magic of the kitchen was not without allure. “ It can be quite addictive, “ she says dreamily, “ Mom says, as a child I would pull up a stool to stand on so I can peek above the kitchen counter announcing that I want to cook too!’ she says with a laugh. “So I would say that the act of cooking was in itself an inspiration.
And the rest of us are thankful for this inspiration that led to MAH so that we all get a taste of that inspired cooking! I now decided to throw some quick questions in rapid-fire style to her.
What’s the weirdest food she has ever tried?
“Many years ago in Burma, I had something that tasted strangely meaty but fermented and not knowing the language could not figure out what it was. It remains a mystery for now.
And The husband was merrily popping with relish fried grasshoppers in Vietnam. To me, that was weird food!!”
If not a Chef, what else would have been her calling?
“Fashion! I love garments and had my own export company for 17 years in Noida.
Her top 5 favourite dishes from the MAH menu
Naga Pork Curry with Black Rice
Cold seafood Pasta Salad”
5 kitchen tools she cannot live without
“ There are 6!
My rubber/silicone scrapers
My Salad spinner
My Egg boiler though is not technically a tool..
And my handheld electric whisk”
Thanking her for her lovingly chronicled journey, I asked her one parting ubiquitous question. What are her future plans for MAH? Sabrina enthusiastically shares “ I plan to have curated sit-down meals in a pop-up form. But what will never change is the desire to feed people. The wealthy, the poor, it won’t matter. As long as I’m able to be a provider of food made with love, I shall be in the kitchen of MAH!”
Sabrina can be reached at 9810731366 / 9811070568 via call or WhatsApp for orders.
MAH operates from Nachinola and currently only offers to Pick Up service and orders have to be placed 24 hours ahead though she suggests trying your luck even up to 12 hours ahead.
At special request she obliges, where possible, orders that need to be vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free.
By Laila Fathima
Images By MAH Kitchen