Hidden underground Hollywood’s new Indian food pop-up offers home cooking


“Food has always been my language of love,” says Akshada Rawat, owner and chef of Dabbu pop-up kitchen. “I love to cook and enjoy Indian food with everyone.”

Rawat’s business, which serves weekly meals for homesick Indian students and workers in his Hollywood apartment, is a new turn in his life. The project only started in September and its scope is still limited; it’s an unlicensed home kitchen setup, and Rawat also works as a digital marketing strategist when he’s not cooking a meal. In addition, she has no formal catering experience.

But for people looking for familiar flavors in a heartwarming home delivery package, Dabbu isn’t just instantly familiar, it’s heartwarming in a way few other foods can. There are plenty of popular and deserving sourdough bakers and home bakers around Los Angeles, but relatively few places – Dabbu and the street food-centric Indonesian Bungkus Bagus in Glendale – for food that feels, for some it is deeply personal.

“I used to cook these meals with friends and family,” Rawat says of his tight, rotating menus twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. While some dishes take more work than others, says Rawat, his leisurely meals (especially on various holidays) with friends have always been lovingly prepared and spices brought back from India. Over time, says Rawat, “we thought about how we could share our fresh, home-style food” with more people. The idea for an even more Instagram-friendly approach to Indian dabbawala home food delivery culture, made in Los Angeles, was born.

On the first day of the operation, September 12, Rawat cooked a dozen vegetarian dishes, mostly to people she met after posting about the pop-up on Reddit. So far, the menu has been fairly standardized, although Rawat does one-off catering meals for groups that go beyond his current dishes. There’s daal makhani, the slow-cooking staple of lentils, and amritsari chole, a rich chickpea curry dish from Punjab that looks at staple ingredients like onions, peppers. greens, tomato and ginger. Each comes in a combo with kadai paneer, served in a bowl over rice for $ 20 each.

“It’s like a tiffin service,” says Rawat, who takes pre-orders a few days before each delivery. His clientele is almost exclusively Indian living in the Hollywood area, at least so far. And for the price, says Rawat, “we can cook them a fresh homemade meal, give them that satisfaction.”

The desire for a home-cooked meal is especially strong during Diwali, adds Rawat, the annual festival of lights celebrated by more than a billion Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others. “Diwali is about your friends getting together and having a party,” she says. “Everything is in the taste of the house. It’s part of the culture, of the way we grow up, especially during the holiday season.

With growing interest, it is hoped that Dabbu can move to a more robust weekly schedule, which means more total orders, a larger menu and more nights of service per week. Rawat may even expand to a more mainstream food event down the line. All the usual limitations on unauthorized home restaurants are still there, Rawat knows, but she also sees a growing desire beyond the big delivery companies and millionaire-backed ghost kitchens for deeply home-cooked meals. personal and delicious. Much like fully licensed home restaurants in Riverside County, Calif., There is an enthusiastic following – and Instagram and Reddit offer a platform. Details may come later; for now, it’s all about the simple comforts of home. “Sometimes,” Rawat says simply (and laughs), “you just want to enjoy being at home, relaxing with food.”

Dabbu offers homemade Indian cuisine every week at an undisclosed location in Hollywood. Pre-orders for Tuesday and Friday service can be made directly with the restaurant online.


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