Hyderabad: You are never too old to follow your dreams and there’s no better example than Hyderabad resident Vangapalli Savitri, who runs her own business at 75. For the last 23 years, she has been serving what have come to be regarded by many as the best Telangana snacks in the city.
Driven by a deep passion for cooking, Savitri started taking small orders when she was 52. As her cooking got popular and orders kept pouring in, she set up Sreedevi Telangana Pindi Vantakalu at Nacharam in 1998. Such has been the repute that she gained over the years that she is now famous as ‘Sakinala’ Savitramma.
How did it all start? It was unexpected and unplanned, she says.
“I enjoyed cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. Seeing my culinary skills, one of the relatives suggested that I put up a food stall at Mahanadu in Delhi. I felt fortunate to have been allowed to showcase our Telangana food culture on a bigger platform. But the annual conclave was called off.
However, that episode fuelled confidence in me to start a business,” Savitri shares.
Her flour items, sweets and pickles became well-liked in no time, and she started receiving orders from across the State. A boy whom she hired and her daughter-in-law used to deliver the orders.
Before moving to Hyderabad, she was in Jagitial with her family. Moving to the city and starting a business was her biggest challenge.
“There were very few women entrepreneurs then. When I thought of setting up a business here, many said ‘Appalu ammukuntava patnam ki velli’. Overcoming all the obstacles, I finally started the business and eventually set up a shop with five employees,” she said. Now Savitri has five branches across the city with about 50 workers, mostly women, in each.
She wanted her outlet to catch the eye among scores of eateries serving Andhra food. That’s why it was named Sreedevi Telangana Pindi Vantakalu. It is also famous as Sreedevi Swagruha Foods.
In 2007, she set up a stall at Telangana Sambaralu at Nizam College Grounds which became a major crowd-puller. “Almost everyone at the venue came to our stall, and the snacks were over in just an hour. Almost 50 workers were managing the stall, among which 20 were at the counter. Yet the crowd was unmanageable. Appalu was sold out at the double. We also had ‘sarvapindi’, ‘gatka’, ‘ariselu’ and ‘ambali’ among other traditional snacks,” Savitri recalls.
Currently, she sells up to 200 kg snacks, sweets and pickles every day, the most famous snacks being ‘sakinalu’ and ‘ariselu’. She receives orders from abroad as well, and the demand is more during major festivals such as Sankranti and Bonalu.
Not a day goes by for Savitri without sitting with the workers and preparing the snacks. Every year, she takes all her workers on a religious tour. Recently, she has taken them to Tirupati by flight.
“We focus on quality more than publicity or advertisement. We maintain good hygiene, and the taste of every snack reminds you of the homely flavour,” Savitri concludes.
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