Our guest foodpreneur this week is Ms. Anju Aggarwal who has been running "Saniya Kitchen" for the last 3 years. She came into this business just by chance. An Ahmedabadi by birth , she has found her soulmate here. She is born, brought up and settled in Ahmedabad. A true blue Ahmedabadi :). She has a large circle of friends and family in the city.
She is married into a well-to -do Marwari family. Generally in marwari families, women are expected to manage the household and do not go out to work. After settling down in marriage, Anju was craving for an identity. Her driving force to do something of her own was to come out of the family shadow and have an identity of her own. Her marital family is large and they have a very active social life. Her cooking skills were always appreciated by one and all. With more appreciation coming in and daughters' demand for new dishes from different cuisines, she has started experimenting and learning a lot. She was busy raising the family, socializing and doing special cooking for friends and family. In the back of her mind, she was always on the lookout of opportunities.
It was in 2017, when one of her close friends, Labdhi Parikh had joined a nascent group of women entrepreneurs named "KONNECT"in Ahmedabad. She had asked Anju to join this group to meet enterprising ladies. Having a business was not at all on Anju's mind when she joined this group. When the "Konnect '' had their first networking meeting, they were looking for someone who can arrange for some snacks after the meeting. Labdhi prompted Anju to take this opportunity and that was the moment of reckoning for Anju. She served the popular Sindhi dish "Dal - Pakwan'' to fifty ladies. Everyone appreciated her cooking. After that there was no looking back. The orders started pouring in soon. She gives all credit to her friend Labdhi and members of "Konnect'' for finding her passion, profession and identity as a chef.
Anju has never undergone any professional cooking just like most of the home chefs. I am really in awe of home chefs who are only driven by passion and love for cooking.
Let's speak to Anju about her journey of finding her own identity.
Petpuja: Welcome to the blog Anju! The way you had been initiated into business is strange.The "Konnect '' and your friend had become the catalyst in bringing out the best in you. After catering to Konnect networking meet, you had started getting orders regularly. Since it was totally unplanned and unexpected, did you fear starting out without any solid pathway to go about?
Anju: There was a lot of fear and anxiety when I started my business, but my family stood by me and always kept on encouraging me. I had never dreamt of being a business woman though I wanted to do something. But there was no clarity about the path, I will tread. Joining KONNECT was the turning point in my life. It gave me my identity and now my family and friends are very proud of my hard work and achievements. My venture SANIYA KITCHEN by Anju Agrawal is named after my elder daughter whose love for food has motivated me to learn new dishes and try new cuisines.
Petpuja: What is the specialty of your products?
Anju: I do the main cooking myself and do not compromise in taste and quality. I strongly believe in healthy and hygienic cooking with minimum usage of all purpose flour (maida) and cheese. The tagline of my venture is - “What I serve my kids; I will serve to my clients”.
I customize recipes according to my clients taste. The beauty of my food is that it is made with lots of love.
Petpuja: So, how has been your journey till now?
Anju: As I mentioned earlier, my journey started when I enrolled for membership with KONNECT. It came as a golden opportunity to turn my passion into a profession. When I started, I didn’t even had a menu on hand. The first item which I served professionally was ‘Dal Pakwan’. After that there was no time to even think about it. I got so much appreciation and orders started pouring in back to back. I kept on learning new dishes to add to my menu. I love my profession and with the support from my family, I am enjoying it thoroughly. My kitchen is open to serve anyone who is looking for home cooked food which is healthy and tasty. I am taking orders for parties, festivals, family get-together, kitties, corporate events. I have never done any marketing. Very recently, we have started our online identity on Instagram. It is just the mouth publicity which helped my enterprise to grow. I am very happy and satisfied with my work.
Petpuja: Congratulations Anju for all your achievements and growth. We would like to know the best seller items of Saniya Kitchen?
Anju: The best seller items rolling out from Saniya Kitchen are - dal pakwan ( my first order and still going strong), varieties of pastas, baked dishes and Punjabi cuisine.
Petpuja: Now when you have tasted success in the initial stage of being into business, where do you see yourself in a few years from now?
Anju: I want to extend and enhance my venture, to cater on a bigger scale. It’s my dream to start my own cafe. I hope to start in partnership with a friend. Actually, we both were working on it when Covid 19 put a break on everything good and nice. :)
Petpuja: These days people are very health conscious. What is your take on making healthy meals?
Anju: Healthy and hygienic food is my first priority. I believe that our health is our asset so I take utmost care while preparing dishes. I get all raw ingredients as and when required and use them fresh. I do not store raw ingredients. I take utmost care to create tasty dishes with minimum use of oil/ghee and all-purpose flour (maida) in my cooking.
Anju has always been appreciated for her cooking skills and never ever got a negative feedback till now. When we asked her about any memorable client feedback, this is what she has to say...
Anju: Little difficult and tricky to answer!! Every time I get only compliments and appreciations for taste, quality and presentation. Till date, no complaints by God's grace. That is the reason for my strength and enthusiasm. I continue to take orders in the hope of getting more appreciation and satisfaction of doing something right. The best one I recollect is serving lunch meals in this lock down for my client's wedding. The faith and appreciation I received for serving in tough times will be cherished for a long time to come.
I always seek clients' feedback and suggestions which helps me to improve my systems.
Petpuja: We would love to have some easy and tasty recipes from your kitchen.
Anju: I am sharing two easy to make recipes which anyone can try. Please do try.
CUPCAKE HANDWA -
Handwa flour 1 cup (ready made, available in market)
Sooji ½ cup
Curd 1 cup
Bottle gourd grated 1 cup
Carrot grated 1 cup
Corn ½ cup [ optional ]
Green peas ½ cup [ optional ]
Onion chopped 1 cup [ optional ]
Green chilies , ginger , garlic , paste 1 teaspoon
Hing 1 teaspoon
Sauf 1 teaspoon
Sugar 2-3 teaspoon
Haldi 2 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Peanuts 2 teaspoon
For seasoning :
Oil – 2 teaspoon
White til – 2 teaspoon
Chana daliya – 2 teaspoon
Red chilli powder – 2 teaspoon
Eno fruit salt– 1 teaspoon / 1 sachet
1. Mix handwa flour, sooji , curd and ½ cup water to make a smooth batter. Keep it for four to five hours .
2. Add all the spices and vegetables to the batter . Mix it nicely and keep for 15 – 20 minutes.
3. Grease the cupcake platter with oil. Add Eno to the batter and put the batter in the baking platter. Preheat the oven and bake at 180 degrees for 35 – 45 minutes.
4. Add the seasoning to the platter and bake again for 5 – 10 minutes.
Your Cup Cake handwa is ready.
AGLIO – E – OLIO :
Boiled spaghetti – 200 gram [ 4 cups ]
Garlic chopped – 2 teaspoon
Olive oil – 4 teaspoon
Butter – 1 teaspoon
Chilli Flakes – 1 teaspoon
Chopped Basil – ¼ cup
Chopped Parsley – ¼ cup
Boiled water of noodles
Olives – 3 teaspoon [ optional ]
Mushroom chopped – ½ cup [ optional ]
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat the oil and butter in a non stick pan. Add Garlic and saute on a medium flame for 2 minutes. Add chilli flakes. Switch off the flame , add spaghetti , Basil , Parsley , Salt and Pepper. Mix well . If needed add spaghetti water. Serve hot garnished with cheese.
Petpuja: Thanks Anju for sharing the recipes. The home enterprise runs smoothly with family support. How does your family support you in your venture?
Anju: My family is my strength. My husband is very supportive and he is my pillar of strength, because of whom I have been able to nurture my business. He helps me in the best possible ways he can. My elder daughter is my biggest support system and her help is beyond words. My younger daughter tries to help me in whatever way she can. Even my 80 years old mother-in-law comes forward to help me when she sees that I am very busy with my orders. Whole family is very supportive and co-operative. That's why I am able to run it so smoothly.
Anju: Any one who loves cooking and has dedication and endurance can surely take home cooking as a business. Food business demands lots of hard work, sincerity and patience. There are no shortcuts here and no fast money in this business. One needs to give time to business to grow.
Petpuja: Thanks Anju for sharing your story with us. I am sure after reading your story, we will have few more home chefs. Wishing you good luck for starting your cafe! Who knows, we may meet in your cafe soon.