With a cup of coffee costing over 100 bucks, eating a wholesome food for mere Rs.5 ($0.074) is a dream that is at best unrealistic. A decent meal in Delhi NCR can set you back by a at least 500 bucks in normal restaurants and food courts, and in expensive restaurants and pubs, sky’s the limit.
A silver lining to this dark culinary cloud is ‘Dadi ki Rasoi’ established in Sector 29, Noida, India. Here you get a plate of dal chawal for a mere Rs.5. And it’s not something substandard cooked in unhealthy, inferior oil that is served, but made of good quality ingredients, cooked in desi ghee.
The credit for this philanthropic act goes to 57-year-old Anoop Khanna, who describes himself as a Noida-based social activist, and his group of like minded individuals. Their collective aim is to provide a wholesome decent meal at the lowest possible cost.
Khanna explains, “We wanted to provide quality food, which gives you a homely feel. We could’ve attempted to provide the food for free as well, but the reason for the price is that it gives dignity to a person who is buying the lunch. As far as the quality of food is concerned, I personally supervise over the preparation. Moreover, since the cost is minimal, anyone can enjoy a meal without worrying about the cost.”
‘DadikiRasoi’ set shop a month ago and its popularity is already touching the sky, especially for daily wagers, such as rickshaw pullers, pavement dwellers, roadside retailers, and people from all walks of life. The queueing at the stall begins much before its opening time of 12pm. Almost 400 people are served by the time it closes at 2pm. And this goes on regularly on a daily basis.
Of course, for Khanna all this doesn’t come cheap. After initially spending a princely sum of Rs.30,000 in setting up the kitchen, that he terms a one-time investment, he doles out almost Rs.2,500 a day just on raw materials for providing this meal.
Khanna’s efforts not only attract people seeking cheap meals, but also other residents who want to become a part of this philanthropic activity. They help him by contributing to his noble cause and even sponsor special meals.
According to Khanna, these sponsored special meals are dished out by residents in the event of marriages or birthday parties in their homes. Apart from the regular dal chawal, this special fare may include paneer chawal, chole chawal, or whatever one can afford.
Khanna explains why people go out of their way to help his cause, “One thing I’ve realized is that there are people who want to support a cause, given if it actually serves a purpose.” This is borne out by the fact that when Khanna first put up his stall and started distributing these inexpensive meals, people donated enough funds to keep the kitchen running for the next one month.
Today, this noble initiative has inspired others in various other sectors to set up such stalls. For Khanna, it has become his life’s mission that he resolves to continue for the rest of his life.