'Millionaire' bachelors fly in mom's kebabs from Pakistan every week

... and curries, chutneys from India on UAE-bound flights for home-sick expats

Heard the one about the millionaire aboard his yacht in the middle of the Atlantic and felt like his favourite cheeseburger? Well, yeah, he gets a chopper to deliver it to him from his favourite burger joint.

The UAE boasts its own version of such foodie 'millionaires' - only it is not a whim and a fancy that drives their overseas orders, but the fact that eatiog out daily becomes a pain and a drain on the pocket for many bachelors who live away from their families. 

Meet Obaid Rathore, who thrives on a steady supply of home-cooked food flown in to the UAE once-a-week.

Rathore, 29, from the Punjab Province of Pakistan told ‘Emirates 24|7’ that he has not missed home-cooked food even for a day during his four-and-a-half years’ stay in the country. Literally! His mom sends him his favourite kebabs, curries and fish on a weekly basis from Pakistan.

A vast network of contacts, family members, friends and aquaintences are tasked with the job of being the food mules.

“Ever since I came to the UAE, my mom has been sending me my favourite dishes through friends and relatives who are coming from Pakistan.  Luckily for me, I don’t miss mom’s food even while living miles away from her,” said Rathore, a Chartered Accountant.

He said initially his mother was worried how he would adjust to the bachelor life - of daily eating from restaurants.

“When I moved to Dubai in 2008, she stuffed my suitcase with kebabs which she said I could refrigerate and use for two weeks at least until I settled down. By the time it got over, I had another parcel sent through a relative who was visiting Dubai.

"Thus it went on and my mom makes sure that my reserve of home-cooked food gets replenished every two weeks,” said Rathore.There are many bachelors in the UAE who sustain themselves on cooked food sent by their families on a regular basis. As a spate of food poisoning cases are hitting the UAE residents and health experts are warning people to take extreme care while eating out, many argue that home-sent food is their best bet against food poisoning.

“The food is safe as it is cooked and frozen at home. When I collect it from my friend at the airport, the packets remain frozen. I keep it refrigerated and heat up small quantities daily. Thus the food remains fresh and will last for more than two weeks,” said Balachandran, a civil engineer from Tamil Nadu, India.

He said ever since he took up the job in Sharjah a year ago, his wife has been sending cooked lemon rice, Puliyodara (rice cooked with Tamarind and spices), cauliflower masala, potato curry and other vegetarian dishes  through a relative who works in the airline industry. 

“I am a strict vegetarian and I was not sure whether I will be able to find good vegetarian restaurants here in Sharjah. And I have to admit that I know nothing about cooking,” said Bala.

For these home food lovers, having a great number of friends and relatives from their native town is what keeps the food stock from dwindling.  

Jose Panakkal, a Keralite from Mumbai said there was no dearth of friends travelling from Mumbai to Dubai who courier the food packets his mother sends regularly.

“There are so many Mumbaites flying down to Dubai and back every week. Of course, it requires some networking to find out who is flying in and flying out. I keep my mom informed whenever a friend is coming and she also keeps track of people who are coming to Dubai,” said Panakkal who works as a Shipping Assistant.

He receives weekly food parcels from his mother in Mumbai ever since he came to Dubai two years ago.

Panakkal said his mom’s food that he eats everyday for lunch and dinner helps him stay healthy without much physical exercise. “It also helps me save a great deal of money which I otherwise have to shell out on buying food from restaurant. The sad fact is if you want quality food, you have to go to expensive restaurants.

"What you can afford on a daily basis in terms of eating out is least healthy,” he said echoing the sentiments of many people who count on food parcels that are sent from across the seas."

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