The culinary destination inspired by the nostalgia of Pune
Former software engineer Poornima Somayaji founded a Pune-based food studio, Aragma Food Studio, which offers cooking classes, workshops, weekend pop-ups and special events. Their philosophy is to create nostalgia-inspired dining experiences with maximum flavor, local ingredients and intriguing stories.
Aragma is a Greek word meaning “to savor life’s little pleasures”. Poornima turned to food for comfort after experiencing a personal loss. She wanted to share her newly discovered love for food with others, so she created the studio, as a place to slow down, sit down and savor every bite and every moment with loved ones or new friends.
The studio is a charming space that can accommodate up to 14 people and is designed to make you feel at home. Dining at the studio will transport you to your living room with a group of friends.
Studio services can be broadly divided into:
Poornima hosts multi-course sit-down dinners, which are by default private dinners unless advertised as tickets. The menu features modern cuisine prepared with fresh, local ingredients sourced from the food forests of Pune and surrounding areas. Dinners are prepared by young in-house expert chefs with Michelin star experience. Poornima hopes to offer regional Indian cuisine as part of its sit-down dinners in the future.
Sign up here for hands-on recreational cooking lessons. At the studio, you’ll find flavor and pleasure in everything from the perfect Thai curry and regional Indian specialties to farmer’s market favorites and comfort food classics. Cook with the freshest ingredients in state-of-the-art kitchens run by experts and regional chefs!
Weekend Context Menus
Every Friday evening, Aragma offers meal boxes for one person which can be reserved in advance. The menu typically includes comfort food from various cuisines from India and around the world, ranging from gua baos and bowls of ramen to an Udipi oota meal.
Two things that stand out, the first is their ingredient list, each ingredient used in their cooking has a unique story and is sometimes given to them by customers or obtained through foraging. For example, the pepper is freshly harvested from the farm of a long-time customer. The team then spices their butter with fresh green pepper, dries some of the seeds into ground pepper powder, and ferments the rest. Similarly, on his travels, Poornima brought back dried Mahua flowers from a tribal village in Maharashtra. They are now preparing a pudding washed down with the flowers.
Chefs transform ordinary fruits and vegetables into works of art. Chocolate Chikoo, a caramel-flavored mousse with spicy chikoo and blueberry filling molded into a chickoo shape and coated in dark chocolate, is one such dish.
While celebrating everyday ingredients, the team also spends time researching and sourcing ingredients from across the country. Chefs serve a snack made from chakli flour, accompanied by mashed green peas and coriander, fresh butter and grated smoked Bandel cheese, an indigenous variety of unripe, salty soft cheese brought to India by the Portuguese and now only available in cities near Kolkata. , on one of their sit-down dinner menus.
Poornima believes in conscious collaboration. They source their products from non-profits such as 14 Trees Foundations, which has restored native green cover to ecologically degraded plots of arid hillsides near Pune. Poornima also creates a community of conscious eaters. He was able to source his supplies directly from small farms and tribal villages in Maharashtra with the help of his family and friends. Their wild honey, for example, comes from a tribal village near the Bhimashankar shrine.
The stories that come with each dish are another aspect that sets the dining experience apart at Aragma. Without a doubt, flavor is inextricably linked to memory and emotion. Poornima engages guests with anecdotes about the ingredients and the land that produced them, as well as the fantastic recipes they inspire. When she tells the story of her watered down pudding, for example, one can very well imagine walking through a tribal forest picking Mahua flowers. His stories evoke memories, which further enhances the dining experience.