Godrej Nature’s Basket, Defence Colony

Update 7th April 2011: Visited Godrej Nature’s Basket for a quick trip this evening. Old, withered and wrinkled vegetables priced at three times the usual didn’t really suit my fancy. The manager refused to believe me, first asking if the vegetables were organic and then stating, “We receive fresh deliveries every morning”. The little idiot could only nod when I showed her a bell pepper with more wrinkles than a prune’s great grandmother and asked her if she considers it old. Obviously if it’s related to food and expensive, it’ll be at GNB, fresh or not. It’s back to INA Market for me.

[singlepic id=1726 w=80 h=92 float=left]Godrej launched it’s flagship gourmet retail store, Nature’s Basket at D-15, Defence Colony yesterday. What we (Siddhartha Singh and I) thought would be a simple launch party, rapidly evolved into a typical Page 3 soiree. A paper plane thrown into the air would probably have floated around indefinitely, powered by turbulence created by the loads of air kisses being exchanged by all and sundry.

The only ray of sunshine in an otherwise dreary evening were snatches of conversation with Bikramjit Ray (CNN IBN) and Gagan Sharma (Wi-Not) accompanied by some good hor’dourves by Olive Bar & Kitchen.

[singlepic id=1053 w=320 h=240 float=left]Personally, I don’t think Godrej Nature’s Basket is a spot on the incredible utility of INA Market. Going by the stock, Godrej Nature’s Basket seems to be targeted at people who don’t really know food, and don’t care as long as the brand is foreign… and expensive. Of course, I do not include people who do not have a better choice in the vicinity, like INA Market. I’m not sure how the inventory at Godrej Nature’s Basket was decided upon, but it does seem spreadsheets had more to do with it than food.

I found a boxed sushi making kit, but the individual components of a typical sushi platter were unavailable for purchase, high priced instant coffees were present, but no multiple (brand) choices of fresh coffee or beans. Expensive cerials included, but no Kelloggs. Is the ordinary gourmet is expected to shop at two different places to complete his/her list? In any case, since when is Weetabix considered gourmet? When asked about a certain cheese, the chap behind the counter at Godrej Nature’s Basket could only say it’s been bought from so-and-so importer and had little else to add. The bread counters were full of crusty looking breads and not one was remotely crusty in texture. Interestingly as the evening progressed, the so-called healthy breads were quickly snapped up, while nearly all the loaves of white bread remained untouched. Considering commercially available ‘brown bread’ is only a wee bit healthier than white bread, I can only conclude it’s fashionable to be seen with a loaf of brown bread sticking out of your shopping basket. Healthy or not, I don’t know why anyone would buy ‘crusty’ bread, softer than their pillows.

There were a few good choices (product and price) in a few categories, but given the bulk of products visible, I’d say they were accidental inclusions from a culinary point of view. Godrej Nature’s Basket needs to seriously rethink their inventory strategy.

Whatever. I’m sticking to INA Market and suggest you do so too.

– Sid
PS: A big thank you to Siddhartha Singh for his inputs and excellent company.
PPS: Photo is from the Godrej Nature’s Basket press kit.

Visited Godrej Nature’s Basket for a quick trip this evening. Old, withered and wrinkled vegetables priced at three times the usual didn’t really suit my fancy. The manager refused to believe me. The little idiot could only nod when I showed her a bell pepper with more wrinkles than a prune’s great grandmother. Obviously if it’s related to food and expensive, it’ll be at GNB, fresh or not.

Sid Khullar

Sid Khullar is the founder of Chef at Large, a blog that began in 2007. He enjoys cooking, writing, travelling and technology in addition to being a practising Freemason. Health and wellness is a particularly passionate focus. Sid prefers the company of food and animals to most humans, and can be reached at [email protected]

  • Monkess

    Darn it! Something I was looking forward too:( I guess it will have to be a if-in-the-area-visit now.
    ” ‘crusty’ bread, softer than their pillows.” That is such an apt simile for the horrible, bakery fresh bread touted about here.

  • Monkess

    BTW, by “here” I meant the city in general not the store!

  • @Monkess: Me too! :( It’s definitely worth a passing visit, but not as a destination unfortunately. I’m sure they’ll understand the lay of the land shortly.

  • @Monkess: “here”, understood the first time. :D

  • This shop tries to play a very difficult balancing act between mass market and gourmet, ends up with ‘one foot on fire, one on ice, on an average, I am comfortable’ type of situation. So you end up with expensive French preserves on one end (couple of which like Rose petal are good), and Amul Butter Milk on another – and then dismiss Kellog’s as mass market. I have to admit, though, that I picked a Sevilla Orange marmalade and the Rose petal preserve and couple of other such, for little over a 1000 rupees which isnt a bad deal. But it will always be a hit and miss shop and not one you can bank on for all gourmet needs.Well, I am new to Delhi, and havent been to INA market, so I have to assume that it must be better
    .-= Siddhartha Singh´s last blog ..Walking along Chandni Chowk – No Meat Allowed =-.

  • That sucks! I was looking forward to checking it out…..but I guess it’s not worth it!
    .-= apeksha´s last blog ..Spinach, artichoke, and feta pizza on a herbed crust =-.

  • Rima

    Hi Sid … Dunno what made me land to your blog … but your views on the Nature’s Basket store seem to be a judgement made too early … I am a resident of Golf links and happened to visit the store (one of my close friends referred it to me) on the 17th of March when the soiree that you are talking about was happening … too bad that I was not invited and the store was closed for the customers on that evening … Nevertheless, I went back on this sunday … and was absolutely delighted to see the range of cold cuts and cheese at the store … The courteous store manager took me through the store and told me that they have just opened (though I knew it) and are right now in the process of filling up the product line gaps. And I think an earnest effort like this store should be given some time. Yes I too checked on Kelloggs and was told that its temporarily not there and would be added soon.

    Apart from the ambience, parking space, an apt assortment and very customer friendly staff, the best thing that I could say about the store is that you could taste quite a few products before buying them. All in all I would rate my shopping experience at Nature’s Basket an 8-8.5 on 10. The store has more than most other stores and definitely a better if not a larger assortment of Gourmet foods than INA.

  • @Rima: Glad you like Godrej Nature’s Basket and approve of it’s selection of products.

    Early Judgement: This blog does not *report* on food events or restaurants, it *reviews*, which is quite evident from the nature of postings. If the store wasn’t ready for a review, we shouldn’t have been invited. :-) Having said that, most, if not all reviews are based on a single point in time and are only accurate to that extent. Given the will to do so, which depends on commercial parameters in large part, I’m sure Godrej Nature’s Basket will soon evolve into a format that suits all levels of food shoppers.

    I agree with you that tasting is definitely a convenience for those who need to do so, which INA market does not offer. I do not however agree with your opinion on INA not having as many products as Godrej Nature’s Basket, which is quite amusing to note.

    Having said that I’ll probably continue frequenting INA Market as it offers much more than Godrej Nature’s Basket (foods from all over the world, not just a small representation, sea food, meats, poultry, utensils, implements…), in a single location.

  • Shweta Singh

    Hi Sid

    I too was a big fan of INA and the Khan markets of the world- but have now grown wiser given my experience.

    I agree that both INA and Khan market have lot of shops selling diverse and varied imported and gourmet products.

    However these purveyors of “fine” gourmet products (aka the mom & pop shops)conveniently fail to mention how they maintain the variety they offer-

    Majority of the products have their origins in hand carriage(all thanks to air hostess-looking for alternate sources of
    income) or “suitcase importers” who supply the stores.

    In variably these products fail to mention any importer details and will just have some random MRP stickers on them-
    gullible customers like you and me fall prey to them

    I recently visited a renowned shop in INA market and was thrilled to find Godiva chocolates. Close inspection showed
    the trademark aberrations- no importer label/no import date

    Godrej Natures Basket seems a refreshing change from this scenario (i did chk out the store)and I am glad they opened
    in Delhi…at least I can consume quality fine food without worrying about its antecedents…

  • @Shweta: I’m happy for you. :) I’m curious. Your IP address shows you’re in Mumbai.

    Godiva Chocolates: Could you share the name of the shop were you found suspicious Godiva chocolates please? The term ‘renowned’ store doesn’t seem right for a place like INA market. :)

    Hand Carriage: Given the turnover at INA Market I doubt if all of it depends on hand carriage, though I agree that mode of transport may form a portion of the wares on sale.

    Mom & Pop Shops: Does that make a difference? I recall visiting a very large store in NOIDA, where the cheeses had decomposed due to power failure and butter had melted and re-frozen due to the same reason.

    Gullible: Speak for yourself please. :) I check my stuff before buying. There are both hits and misses, which are part of the game. In the end, I find far more positive experiences w.r.t. food shopping at INA Market, than anywhere else.

    I’m quite sure the wares at Godrej Nature’s Basket are authentic, fresh and legally brought into the country. Their selection however, leaves much to be desired, which is why I avoid patronising any one store, e.g. Godrej Nature’s Basket. If however, I cannot find something at INA, I’ll be sure to pay Godrej Nature’s Basket a visit to try and find it there, though given the size of the store I visited, that situation seems unlikely.

  • Sid, you should become an investigative journalist! IP address and all :-) Now determined to check INA market out…only if Agarwal Packers & Movers would deliver my car – can you post a bloody review on them, please?

    Now coming back to the store…I am sure everyone will find a lot of things of their interest at the shop, and as I mentioned earlier I certainly did. Since I am only recently back from Europe, I had prices of lot of things (from Fragata preseves, Monini Olive Oil, Barilla and De Cecco pastas and Barilla sauces) fresh in mind and could compare. And the kind of custom duties I was told about, about 100% premium sounded reasonable. So there certainly are good things about the store. But would I think it is a great place for bread? No. Would I buy a cheese like mozzarella from someone who cant tell me date and place of origin? No. But Parmigiano Reggiano was at prices almost similar to what I would get in Europe and I will certainly buy it here.

    And Rima’s experience suggests that they may have learnt a lesson or two in humility…now it is unlikely that they will say Kellog’s is too common to be in such a shop (that to with Amul Buttermilk stocked a couple of feet away!). And I dont even eat Kellog’s (and those who know politics of it, would know that not many would be eating it across the world had Iowa not been first primaries along with NH..but then I digress…well, you stock something or dont but pls dont BS)
    .-= Siddhartha Singh´s last blog ..Stuffed bellies, tired legs and the Chaos of Chandni Chowk =-.

  • @Siddhartha: I tend to become a little curious about the origin of some visitors, given the tone and language in certain comments. That’s one thing I will heartily second – Parmigiano Reggiano. I have not been able to find it in INA and usually accept Grana Padano as a workable substitute.

    The Kelloggs thing doesn’t make sense – doubly so because potatoes and onions are stocked too, which are low cost staples that eat up a great deal of space.

    Anyhow – PDO Parmesan, here I come! :-)

  • Vivek

    I agree completely with you Sid. Just been to the GK 2 shop of Godrej Nature’s Basket, and am not at all impressed with it. Little choice of dry fruits, which were expensive too. Most of the oriental and continental basic ingredients were just expensive with little choice. Any day Le Marche beats this in terms of choice. Maybe one thing about this I would recommend this shop is worth for is maybe the cheeses. And yes, they claimed to store beer in their shops which I did not find :(

  • @Vivek: Le Marche did come to mind when we visited Godrej Nature’s Basket. I’ve only visited Le Marche a couple of times though and cannot claim to know the store well. Yes, cheeses do seem to be a plus point at Godrej Nature’s Basket.