It’s feasting time! Diwali is almost here, and it’s time to light up our homes, and fill up our plates — with all those snacks and sweets. Most young working professionals these days do not find the time to prepare all the traditional feasting items at home, and hence resort to buying them instead. While that’s not a bad idea, nothing can beat the taste of homemade Diwali snacks.
To the aid of such busy people are these women who help you achieve this golden mean between saving time and still eating homemade food. Turning their passion for cooking and their knowledge of preparing traditional food items into profession, the women have been making and selling homemade Diwali snacks.
BEST OF EVERYONE
It was some six years ago, in 2011, that I began this venture. It all started when the ladies of our housing complex in Panvel gathered during Diwali and discussed how each of us had prepared particular snacks so well. We realised that each one of us was good at something. Thus, my friend Pooja Chonkar and I decided to start this small business of ours from our homes.
We now sell three types of Laddoo, two types of Karanji, and Shankarpale, Chakli, Chiwda and Shev. Most of our raw material is sourced from the local markets in Panvel. We try to find the right match of quality and reasonable pricing. The one thing we do not want to compromise on is quality. Also, we use the same material for preparing our own snacks too. So quality is ensured every year. We cook all these items at home in a hygienic environment.
The cost of products is calculated based on raw material costs, fuel, our labour and some profit margin. For instance, the Khaja Karanji (a specialised form of karanji) costs Rs 25 per piece this year.
All the common, most-bought snacks like Chakli and Laddoo are prepared in advance. We have formed a particular customer base now, people who order specific items every year. So we have an idea of that. The rest is prepared based on orders. We begin the preparations from Navratri time. So far, we haven’t provided our food items to retail shops since they expect very low rates. With providing to individual households, and through word-of-mouth publicity, we together earn a profit of around Rs 50,000 every year during Diwali.
‘WANTED TO MAKE MOTHER-IN-LAW’S CHAKLI FAMOUS’
For the last three years, I have been making and selling Chakli. The reason I decided to start the business was to make my mother-in-law’s amazing Chakli famous. I wanted others to taste it. So I learnt from her how to make it and the first two years I used to only sell it to my relatives. I later made Chirote and started enjoying the process of making Diwali faraal. Both the items got a positive response and everyone motivated me to sell it on a larger scale. So I started keeping these items at local retail stores and the response I got was fabulous. People liked my Chakli and started enquiring about it. Even though I have made a page on Facebook, I realised that I have got a better response at the local stores. Looking at the growing demand, I have added Chiwda, Shankarpale and Besan Laddoo this year.
I use the best ingredients for everything. While others charge Rs 250-300 per kg, I charge around Rs 400. I do not compromise on the price because I do not compromise on the quality.
I make limited amount of faraal because of lack of storage space. I have been making 100 kg of faraal every year and usually ask my clients to place their orders by Dussehra because that’s when I start my preparations. The Chakli batter takes time. The rest of the faraal takes only two weeks. The last two weeks become very hectic. This year, with the festivals falling one after another, I have been getting lots of last minute orders but I enjoy the entire process.
HOBBY TO BUSINESS
I began my Diwali snacks venture on a very small scale in 2014. Cooking has always been my hobby and I loved to experiment. I always try to do something in this field, something of my own, after having worked for an organisation for a while. It’s the idea of converting my hobby into my business that got me started. I started alone, but now I do have a couple of women helping me out.
I source my raw materials from wholesalers in Pune. After years of doing this, most of my vendors are fixed. I prepare the non-perishable snacks little before Diwali sets in since the schedule becomes really busy then. Apart from the usual Chakli and Laddoo, I sell some different food items like Garlic Shev, Methi Shankarpale etc. It’s a small twist to the traditional items.
Quality of products is of utmost importance to me since people prefer homemade Diwali snacks for this one reason. So there is no compromise on this.
The packaging of all these is done at home, and I now include a small label along with it, which has my name and contact details. I have gotten the business registered under the Home Industry category, and hold a licence for the same.
Most of my business depends on word-of-mouth and friends who help me reach more customer base. I once got an entire organisation’s order, thanks to a friend. I haven’t tried social media publicity yet though, but do give the products to some local retail shops where they get more visibility.