Giving Kolkata cuisine its moment in the Coventry sun

Giving Kolkata cuisine its moment in the Coventry sun

Paulomi De Hazra and Subhrajyoti Sarkar’s brainchild ‘Burp! Food Pop Up’ is just over a year old and already creating waves within their community in Coventry and beyond.

Initially, the couple started a small cooking and delivery business from their home purely out of a passion for good Indian food. However, the timing proved serendipitous as lockdown hit and options for eating out became constrained. Burp! Food Pop Up, with its offer of delectable Indian cuisine, soon began spreading much-needed home-cooking joy in their town. And, the couple have been on a roll ever since.

In this Big Bite Series, we catch up with the foodie duo on their Burp-tastic journey, future plans and much more.

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Q

Let’s start at the very beginning – when did you move to the UK and where from?

A

Paulomi (P): I was born in Kolkata and raised in Bhubaneswar and Shillong (north-east India). Marriage brought me to the UK, where I began work in MarComms and moved to Campaign Management while pursuing architecture in parallel.

Subhrajyoti (S): Born and raised in Kolkata, first a Mission boy and then a JU Mechanical Engineer, I moved to Pune and Mumbai for work before landing in the UK for my MBA. I have been here since.

Q

How did the idea of Burp! pop up?

A

P: It was quite a lucky accident – while watching Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara with friends, I realised I found as much joy in cooking as (character) Arjun did! So, it was always a latent wish to run a supper club, experiment with food and feed everyone around. Being an avid foodie and being super interested in the back-story of food, I began food blogging during my maternity leave – chronicling food stories for the little one as an heirloom to pass on.

Then as lockdown 2.0 hit us, the impulse and a huge push from friends and family made us take the dip to create a cloud supper club; to celebrate the food we grew up eating – the curry houses and Balti cuisine never did justice to Bengali food. And while there has been a smattering of Punjabi, South Indian and Gujarati cuisine, Kolkata Cuisine – both traditional and street style – Mughlai and Indo-Chinese needed its moment in the sun. Thus Burp! was born.

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Q

How has year one been like, the highs and lows?

A

S: Every day has been memorable and exciting – waking up to the realisation that so many people are keen on Burp and our creations is the biggest encouragement.

From our first pop-up shop until today, the numerous patrons who keep making us a part of their special occasions, the lovely notes they send us, and the special requests they make for some of our signature dishes make all the hard work worth it.

Q

What is your comfort food on a long tiring day?

A

P & S: Biryani – That’s where it all began!

Q

And, what are some signature Burp! dishes?

A

P: I love creating a few dishes based on Bengali cuisine but which are completely my own, such as the Achaari Chicken Wings and sweet dishes – Nolen Gur Cake (jaggery flavour), Malai Trikon and Nolen Gur Sandesh. Other items like Fish Fry, Chhanar Kalia (cottage cheese curry), the traditional Bangali dishes – they keep getting requested over and over again.

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Q

Has it been easy to source Indian ingredients where you are?

A

S: For the most part, yes. Coventry has a huge desi population and hence an elaborate desi marketplace. Also, a shout out needs to go to Green Oranges for their phenomenal response to that gap in the market for all Bong foodies! We are 100 per cent reliant on them for our fish and a few very Bengali ingredients, like the Bori. For some other ingredients, we are hugely grateful to our friends who brought us our supply of ingredients from their trips to Kolkata. They are as much a part of #teamburp as we.

Q

What are some future plans?

A

P: Well, I wanted to participate in Master Chef to promote Bengali cooking, that hasn’t happened. But we want to continue to spread the love for Bengali food across the country – beyond just the Bengali diaspora. The tribe is growing, and we’re collaborating with like-minded people and organisations promoting Bengali arts and culture, as food is an inevitable part of it.

We are also looking at engaging more desi mums into the Burp! kitchen to celebrate traditional cooking on a commercial scale.

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