When someone introduces themselves as a work-from-home entrepreneur, the admission can incite a fair amount of jealousy. Why? Because, one gets to be their own boss, enjoy full control over the way things work and also take a siesta, if one feels like it. What’s not to like?
In this growing breed of people who run things the way they want, selling home-cooked food has become a big business, bringing in dividends.
There is a spurt in entrepreneurs who are dabbling with new ingredients previously not on the radar. One can now order frozen kachoris, brownies, nut butters, rice papads, rawa and bandar laddoos, sponge cakes, Gujarati snacks – the list is endless. And, each of these items is lovingly fried, cooked, packed and delivered right to your doorstep.
Customer satisfaction is paramount to these entrepreneurs who aren’t afraid to go out on a limb to build their customer base, even if it means going to deliver the product themselves whether it’s 40 degrees outside or pouring cats and dogs. Word of mouth combined with the power of social media is a heady mix that is bringing them both popularity and revenue in big quantities. So, the next time you feel like having some crunchy homemade brownies or mouthwatering pickles, you know who to call.
Bite of health
Started in 2016 by homemaker Neha Sharma, her range of frozen kachoris, makai ka chivda, peanut chutney, flax seed karam podi, sunflower seed chutney and garlic chutney has attracted customers from Attapur, Gachibowli, HITEC City, Lakdikapul, Masab Tank, etc.
With a recipe handed over the generations, Neha is known for her khasta kachoris which she sells in the frozen form. “The difference in the kachoris I make and the ones sold in sweet shops is that I don’t use soda and moong dal; the ingredients I use are even safe for even 5-year-olds,” says Neha who is currently juggling looking after her three-year-old daughter and preparing for the probationary officer (PO) exam.
But, she doesn’t mind the work as she is passionate about cooking. The organic ingredients for the snacks are sourced from her hometown in Maharastra. The kachoris she makes require less oil, which is another plus when compared to those sold in the market.
“You just need to fry them and they are ready. Generally in the frozen form, they last for 3-4 days. Initially, I started by making small quantities for my friends and family. Slowly, through word of mouth and by putting up stalls in exhibitions, people came to know about it and I started getting orders. We get bulk orders mostly, but if the delivery area is nearby, I take orders for even small quantities. At the end of the day, the customer should feel happy,” adds Neha.
The health conscious will like her flax seeds chutney, a rich source of Omega-3. “I make the chutneys using the traditional pestle mortar so the flavour really comes out. Many of my customers come back and tell me that it tastes like what their grandmother used to make,” says Neha who takes a minimum order of 20 kachoris and 1 kg for chutneys. One has to place an order at least one or two days in advance.
Mouthful of heaven
Baking was certainly not in the scheme of things for former IT professional and banker, Faisal Tayabali. But, that’s just how things came about for this entrepreneur whose brand Euphoria has become synonymous with scrumptious brownies. “I still don’t think of myself as a baker, more a businessman who just stumbled upon a great opportunity. My wife Anita came up with the name Euphoria, as it denotes the next level of happiness. You will experience that when you eat our brownies,” says Faisal.
Starting his own business was a gamble, but it came at a time when he found himself brooding over where he was headed in life. “I had already had a stint at a call centre, a bank and then at a software company where I found myself on the ‘bench’ after projects.”
During this time, my wife and I made 40 kg brownies for a bake sale at a Christmas fair at YWCA. They sold out like hot cakes. I remember we borrowed an oven from a friend and baked for 36 hours,” adds Faisal who figured there was a demand and decided to start a business around it.
Initially, Faisal did his own deliveries, going to different parts of the city to deliver the brownies, but as word spread, he teamed up with an external agency which now picks up the orders for deliveries. “I was a member of the ‘Foodies in Hyderabad –Reloaded’ group on Facebook which really helped spread the word and I’m a social media addict that came in handy as well,” quips Faisal who now works out of a home-cum-studio near his house in Sainikpuri.
Order 24 hours in advance for their delish brownies; they take a minimum order of 250 gm. Take your pick from their chocolate-, walnut- and coffee-flavoured brownies.
Spicing up taste buds
Once the hot summers arrive, the household of Padma Bogala in Mehdipatnam buzzes with activity through the day. The enterprising duo Padma and her daughter, Aruna, are famous for their mouthwatering spicy pickles, podis and Andhra snacks. Avayakaya, maagaya, menthi avayakaya, pesara avyakaya, bellam avakaya, Andhra-style gongura (Indian red sorrel) pachadi, tomato pickle, korivikaram (red chilli), usirikaya (gooseberry), usiri avakaya, chintakaya (raw tamarind), apart from podis like kandhi, karam, dosa, karivepaku, nuvvulu, curry and coconut are the exhaustive range of items they prepare on an order basis.
And, there are absolutely no leftovers. “We have been making these for close to 20-25 years now. They are traditional recipes used by grandmothers. People love what we sell; these days no one really has the time or knack for making such pickles or podis… like they don’t know how much salt to add or how much chilli. My mother was making them on an informal basis for friends and family initially,” shares Aruna, who, along with her brother, created an FB page called Padma Home Foods.
“Most of our customers come through someone’s reference. We give them samples first to see whether the taste appeals or not. If they want less spice or garlic in the pickles, we tweak the recipe accordingly,” adds Aruna. The most popular pickle that sells very quickly is their cauliflower pickle which lasts for 15 days.
Despite being on home business scene for many years, the family has stuck to their informal setup, preferring to work from home. If the delivery place is nearby, it’s usually taken care of by Aruna’s brother; otherwise, they courier the packets. “We supply all over, even abroad like Canada, and the USA. We don’t believe in plastic bottles. A lot of people take the pickles in pingani also as it is easier to store,” says Aruna who takes minimum orders for 1 kg. The price varies according to the order.
Throwback to the Nizams
In the 2 km radius of the Sultanpura area, ask anyone about the family which makes badam sweets, and the response is an instant one — Hussaini family. The small home-run business in the area is famous for their badam ki jali and ashrafis.
A recipe carefully preserved and improved over decades, the family now sells the almond-based sweets under the brand name, The Imperial Sweet House. Started by Nasreen Hussaini and her mother-in-law Nafees, the duo cater to weddings, celebrations, birthday anniversaries and even gift trays.
The recipe is a simple one, a mixture of almonds that have been soaked overnight and then ground into a paste in the morning with sugar – something similar to marzipan. “My mother Nasreen was doing the majority of the work, but when she passed away four months ago, my grandmother Nafees and my wife Aisha took over the running of the kitchen. We also have 10 workers who have mastered the recipe. We can make 1 to 2 kg of sweets in an hour’s time,” says Syed Aliuddin Hussaini who manages the social media page.
Baked to perfection, the badam ki jali, moulded using cookie cutters, is then garnished with silver warq and packed into boxes to be delivered. Their ashrafi, on the other hand, is pressed between coins bearing the Nizam’s inscription and smoothened.
“Now we are also trying out a new recipe with puran poli with zafraan, badam lauz and egg lauz which is similar to a pudding,” adds Ali who also counts well-known industrialists and old Hyderabadi families among his clientele.