Bihari cuisine? Meet the saas-bahu who started in the middle of the pandemic and receives more than 450 orders every month
Chhaunk, also known as tadka, taalipu, vaghaar, Where poron, in different Indian languages, adds extra spice to most Indian dishes. Usually a mustard seed, cumin or to hang up (asafoetida) in hot, sizzling oil is poured over the food – carrying an aroma and taste that symbolizes home.
Mother-in-law and daughter-in-law duo Hiranyamayi Shivani (58) and Manjari Singh (35) bring that ‘home’ feeling to Delhi – NCR with The Chhaunk, a cloud-based cuisine featuring traditional Bihari cuisine.
Manjari is already an entrepreneur with her kitchen and cookware e-commerce brand, Favola. Hiranyamayi, who has a master’s degree in history, was a housewife until July 2021, when the pandemic disrupted her plans to return home to Bihar. Instead, she decided to start a business with her daughter-in-law.
“My mother-in-law is a fabulous cook – she has that maa ka haath ka jaadu (the magic in the mother’s hands) that everyone is talking about. Since childhood, we have both been exposed to various cuisines, which also helped us develop an interest in food and learn more about it, ”said Manjari.
Food that tastes like home
When the second wave of COVID-19 hit India and Hiranyamayi was unable to leave Delhi, the duo thought there must be people, especially from Bihar, looking for authentic cuisine Bihari. Manjari says they have taken a deep dive into a new business without a second thought.
“As we are a cloud kitchen specializing in Bihar, the people of Bihar have automatically become our first target customers, especially those who live far from their families. “
In a few months, the opposite happened. While retaining Bihari customers, their promotions now target people keen to explore new cuisines. To this end, they continue to add more Bihari items to the menu and also attempt a fusion of cuisines.
The duo started with Litti chokha, a Bihari signature dish that is basically stuffed whole wheat dough balls served with a brinjal or potato curry.
“The first person who ordered was our family friend, a non-Bihari living far from his family in Delhi. He has eaten food prepared by my mother-in-law before and soon after learning about our business he placed an order with us. He now regularly orders food, ”says Manjari.
The Chhaunk offers a variety of dishes from its cloud kitchen, including snacks like Bajka, Jhalmuri, Chura Matar, Chura Badam, and more. They have Sattu ki Kachori, Litti Chokha, Pulav and Dal Puri with kheer for complete meals. They also offer Sattu Sharbat, a Bihari drink par excellence.
They use glass packaging to deliver lead-free, frozen and leak-proof food.
In less than two months, with an initial investment of Rs 50,000, The Chhaunk has grown by 40% and delivers up to 450 orders in one month. Prices start from Rs 180.
Manjari is philosophical about the whole idea and the business.
“In the midst of every crisis lies an opportunity. The pandemic has wreaked so much havoc but has not stopped us from dreaming. We had constant doubts after seeing the conditions of other food companies, but we thought we would give The Chhaunk a chance in our own way. “
The duo work from their home and office in Gurugram and have a team of 13 people. They use social media a lot, especially WhatsApp and Facebook. They have teamed up with Zomato and Dunzo and are launching their website soon.
While the saas-bahu complement each other in their love for food, they also have unique working styles. Hiranyamayi takes care of the recipes and the cooking process while Manjari handles the vendors and finances. “It’s a great family and business partnership,” says Manjari.
The duo also have ambitious plans for The Chhaunk.
“From the chowks of Bihar, The Chhaunk aims to create an ecosystem that feels like home. We aim to open at least 50 outlets over the next two to three years to deliver Bihari homemade food. Next year, the company plans to open outlets in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Goa, Bangalore and Jaipur, ”Manjari said.