When the food is cooked in the kitchen of Deepa Guha’s house in Gurugram, her smell goes to the neighbors’ house. The aroma of Bengali cuisine cooked in the kitchen, also brings water to the mouth of people passing around the house. Deepa, 67, has recently started a homemade food business in Gurugram. Which he named ‘Bengali Love Cafe’. Where she cooks and sells Bengali cuisine. However, she had been taking food orders for small events or parties for many years. But, now they have given it the form of full time business.
Earlier Deepa used to cook only for limited occasions. But Deepa’s daughter, Sakshi, encouraged him a lot and in January 2020, Deepa started ‘Bengali Love Cafe’.
Sakshi, 33, was working with a multinational company. But, he lost his job in March 2019. Talking to The Better India, Sakshi says that she was very upset due to sudden job loss. She says, “I had full responsibility for household expenses, parents and three sisters. To solve the problem, I thought of starting a tiffin service with my mother. ”
‘Bengali Love Cafe’ was launched from her home kitchen. Within a year, it was fully developed into a cafe. Due to which they are earning more than two lakh rupees every month.
From tiffin service to a cafe
With the loss of the witness’s job, the savings were gradually lost. Sakshi then requests her mother to use her cooking skills, to help the family. Sakshi says, “Around October 2019, I prepared some leaflets and persuaded my mother to prepare food orders.” Sakshi says that she had full faith in her mother’s culinary skills and knew that this business would go on. They distributed these leaflets in their neighborhood, offering homemade Bengali food.
The menu consisted of vegetables, lentils, roti and rice. Also, there was a choice of fish, chicken or egg for non-vegetarian customers. She says, “We started getting some orders and gradually some customers started coming back to place orders. Over time, we found many customers who needed tiffin service. ”
People liked the food they cooked. Now Deepa and Sakshi move towards starting a cloud kitchen. She states that she registered her business on Zomato and started accepting orders on the online platform from 15 January 2020. The corona epidemic had just begun and many people started working from home. It was a good opportunity for him. There was a significant increase in the number of customers.
Deepa says that once she learned how to handle online orders comfortably, she also offered her food on other platforms such as Swiggy, Magic Pin, India Mart, Bay, Fatafat and others and started taking orders from people. “We registered to provide catering services for weddings and individual events,” she says.
As the business progressed and the lockdown relaxed, the mother-daughter duo rented a place to open an outlet. He officially launched an outlet in May 2020, offering over 50 Bengali dishes. These dishes include rolls such as Luchi Chicken Curry, Luchi Chicken Kosha, some snacks such as Luchi-o-Aloo Chorchori, Kolkata’s Jhal Moodi and many delicious combo mills such as Doi Macha Combo and Waterfall Ghee Bhat Adi with Aloo Cheddo Were also included. Deepa says, “Many people like our Bhog Khichdi here.”
Bhog Khichuri (bhoger, khichuri) of Bengali Love Cafe is a traditional and popular dish, which is eaten especially during Durga Puja. It is made using roasted moong dal, rice, vegetables, spices and ghee. It is an nutritionally rich Indian dish, which also acts as an immunity booster.
Deepa says that it is very similar to ‘Indian khichdi’. It is definitely eaten during the festive months, especially in Durga Puja. It is very easy to make and also very tasty. ” She adds, “Whenever I serve it, I like to pour a spoonful of melted ghee on top of it, it doubles its taste.”
She says that all their dishes are made from the basic ingredients of Kolkata, adding to the taste of their dishes.
Traditional homemade food-filled thali
Witnesses say that to handle the growing business, they have employed some more people. She says, “We have employed about 30 women from the neighborhood. Like my mother, all women are also housewives and they did not know much about business. But with a little help, she is now making more money. ” Currently, the cafe receives at least 200 orders a day and the number is also increasing gradually.
A customer of ‘Bengali Love Cafe’, Ashish Poddar is very appreciative of the food served here. He says that he received a leaflet for the tiffin service a year ago and then he started ordering food from here. He says, “He started a small-scale business and grew rapidly. However, their food quality and taste have always been the same. After completing 50 or 100 miles, I sometimes get treats here. ”
Ashish says that the food is prepared for him as he wants. He says, “I prefer less oil-spices.” At my request here, my food is cooked with less oil and spices. ”
Sakshi says that despite the success, she faced many challenges in this journey over the years. She says, “I had no financial support. I did not even have enough money to hire a worker to do the work. I had to manage many things alone, including purchasing raw materials, preparing food, packaging and distributing them. Also, none of us had any prior experience in this area. It was also difficult for us to understand the behavior of customers, their likes and dislikes and market demand etc. ” She says that during the lockdown, she also faced many challenges related to the raising of raw materials.
From her own experience now, Sakshi has some suggestions that may be helpful for those wishing to do business. She says, “There are four pillars for business – skills, innovation, target audiences, and marketing.” We had to examine the market and understand our skills. For example, many Bengali people living in Gurugram remembered traditional homemade food. We could deliver their favorite Bengali food to their home! ”
She further states that making some changes and innovations in the original idea helps in moving forward in the market. It is equally important to reach more and more customers. She says, “We identified the needs of the Bengali community and took orders at a cheaper price. As far as marketing is concerned, being honest with customers is also very important. Give them good quality food products at the right price. Always listen to their response and according to the change in market demand, change your business as well. ”
Talking about future plans, Sakshi says that she wants to set up a trading company. Where he can sell Bengali groceries across the city. She says, “I want to increase more employment opportunities for women. My mother always wanted a cafe for herself, I am happy that her wish was fulfilled. ”