Most Dhabas Serve Cleaner Food Than Restaurants: Agree To Disagree?

As humans, one of the needs that we need to fulfil is the need for food. And we all go to a bunch of different places to do that. People with more spending power often go to high-end restaurants and hotels even for a simple cup of coffee, while others don’t mind going to dhabas and budget cafes to get a sumptuous meal. Some say dhabas are cleaner than restaurants while others beg to differ. How clean are any of these food service establishments? That’s a mystery that not many have answers to. 

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Dhabas Are Cleaner Than Restaurants

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There’s a common misconception that just because roadside dhabas look grimy from afar, the food is also contaminated. More often than not, it is not true. If you were to spend a day at a dhaba, trying to figure out how they go about their day, you’d be surprised to see how meticulous they are about hygiene and cleanliness. After all, that is the only source of income they have, and they’re at the constant risk of shutting down even at the slightest hint that they don’t prepare food like they’re supposed to. And so, many of our food memories from road trips are of eating at dhabas with plates stacked high with paranthas and an assortment of chutneys, gravy dishes, and pickle, and having reached home safe without an upset tummy. 

Dhabas Food Is Cooked Fresh

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I do understand that many dhabas are often highlighted in the news for serving food that wasn’t prepared in the most hygienic conditions. But the only reason you don’t see the same news from hotels is that their kitchens are more guarded and not everyone can enter the kitchen. Dhabas have open kitchens and you see the same people cooking the same food every day over stoves and in huge woks (kadhai) full of oil.

They make food fresh every day because, more often than not, they do not have facilities like refrigeration. The dough for the paranthas and naans are kneaded every few hours depending on the requirement, the vegetables for gravies are chopped fresh in the morning, and the lassi that you love drinking up is churned out every day. Plus, everything is cleaned with soap water thoroughly before they are used for any purpose. Is it ideal? Not really. But if you were to know what happened in restaurant and hotel kitchens, you’d be less critical of these.

Restaurants Cook In Advance 

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To cater to our ever-increasing demand for quick authentic food, restaurants prepare things like sauces and gravies in bulk and store it in the refrigerator in large containers. When you place an order for that pasta in arrabbiata or bechamel (no such thing as white sauce pasta!) sauce and are served within minutes of you placing your order, these large kitchens usually pull out these containers and take how much ever they need for a portion, cook it and serve it to you. If you were to order something that’s super fresh, it would take more than just the ten minutes that you’re willing to wait for your food. No one wants complaints on the basis of time taken to deliver your food. Good food takes time to prepare. That’s why when people cook at home, it takes a few hours before dinner can be served. 

Restaurants Are Supposed To Be Cleaner, But Are They?

Aren’t restaurant and hotel kitchens supposed to use industrial strength cleaners and sanitisers? Absolutely. These food service establishments are supposed to use HACCP certified items only. But many times when there is a lot of rush, it is next to impossible to be constantly cleaning the range or the stove and these things get pushed back until the beginning or the middle of the week when the influx of patrons is low. 

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While seeing ants, cockroaches, and flies is not an uncommon sight at dhabas, hotel and restaurant kitchens aren’t protected from them either. You’d think that just because they’re inside cemented walls, they’re invincible to nature, but they’re really not. Many kitchens don’t even have a fly trap or even a can of anti-cockroach spray. We give importance to making money, alright. But it seems that not many respect the need for hygiene.

This is not to discount the fact that many restaurants are strict about the cleanliness factor. But there are many that bring down the reputation of the industry by not even doing the bare minimum. 

Featured Photo Courtesy Of: Wikimedia Commons

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