Fresh Dabba brings Indian flavor to UCF area
One UCF student is modernizing a 125-year-old lunch delivery tradition so Knights can get a taste of Indian cuisine.
Asif Fazal, a junior management major, and his brother Aqeel Fazal, a sophomore mechanical engineering major at the University of Florida, modeled their business Fresh Dabba after traditional Indian delivery men.
Dabbawalas, translating to "delivery men" in English, would deliver dabbas, which are cylindrical tins or aluminum containers that store food. However, instead of using metal, the brothers use hard, microwavable plastic containers that mimic the dabbas' shape.
The top container contains two appetizers, such as a somosa and curry and an entrée such as buttered chicken. Orders can be placed online at freshdabba.com, and customers could order up to two weeks in advance from either a vegetarian dish for $9 or a non-vegetarian dish for $10 with free delivery.
The food is delivered between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. The customer receives a confirmation email and phone call.
The brothers are not new to the food industry, though their previous foray brings back some painful memories. In 2012, their father died unexpectedly and the family was left to run his restaurant, Indian Delights.
Together as a family, they wouldn't take failure as an option, and they turned the restaurant into a catering business.
"It was a big hit to us. And it's something that we weren't expecting. Something you don't think about. After it happens, it either breaks you down or it builds you up and makes you stronger.
"Being an inspiration to us, [our father is] why we strive to be self-made and spread our culture and educate people and provide a service that's convenient for college students, people who are in the work field and stay-at-home people who are unable to cook for themselves that day," Asif said.
When his brother first told him about the idea of Fresh Dabba, Aqeel didn't know how they would make it work.
The two wanted to have a delivery system where people could order online from a daily rotating menu.
The first person to try their food was food blogger Ricky Ly of "Tasty Chomps." Ly, a 2008 UCF alumnus, tried Fresh Dabba a few weeks ago when Asif and Aqeeel reached out to him and other media.
"I think it's really cool because not a lot of people have tried Indian food. As students, we should get out of our comfort zone," Ly said. "I think it's good because a lot of studies have shown the more exposed you are to cultures, the less bias you are. You will have a better understanding and compassion."
Fresh Dabba caters to those in the UCF area, as well as within 10 miles of Winter Springs.
Veronica Brezina is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future.