Cash and Curry
Boston’s best lunch-delivery service has its roots in a century-old Indian tradition.
In Mumbai, India, an elaborate system of trains and dabbawallas (couriers) delivers lunches from home kitchens to downtown workplaces. Here in Boston, Pushp Bhetia, who goes by “Guru the Caterer,” has established something of a updated version of that tradition, bringing authentic Indian food to homesick students and hungry office workers around town.
Bhetia, who has no formal culinary training, moved to Boston five years ago to expand his cell-phone business, but switched to catering when the local dining scene came up short. “All this food they’re making in big restaurants is good, but not something you can eat on a daily basis,” he says. “It’s too rich.” Bhetia’s recipes, collected from family and friends, bypass the cream-based sauces associated with northern Indian cuisine. There’s sambahr, a southern Indian lentil dish, and zucchini masala, as well as flaky, grease-free samosas. His lunch boxes come with basmati rice and whole-wheat chapati—which he says are closer to what most Indian families eat at home—and cost $7.50 each ($6.50 for vegetarian).
Door-to-door and meal-plan deliveries are reserved for companies with at least five regular customers, and require 24 hours’ notice. Current meal-plan clients include employees at Biogen Idec and Microsoft, as well as students at MIT, Boston University, and Harvard; other customers meet Bhetia at designated drop-off points around the city. Those feeling spontaneous can opt for pickup at his Somerville storefront (open 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Monday through Saturday), an operation he hopes to expand on later this year with the addition of two area shops.