He quit Google to sell samosas

Munaf Kapadia, founder of The Bohri Kitchen, had set out to cure his mother of her obsession with 'saas-bahu' soaps and focus on her culinary skills but instead found his own feet as an entrepreneur

He quit Google to sell samosas

Vishnu Makhijani

"The greatest irony of all is that the world believes that TBK was born out of a son's desire to help his mother realise her dreams. While it may have started out that way, it really became about my mother helping me realise my own," says Munaf Kapadia, founder of the hugely successful The Bohri Kitchen that in five years, hosted close to 4,000 home diners on weekends and at its peak in 2019 was delivering 1,000 biryanis a day across Mumbai in How I Quit Google To Sell Samosas (Harper Collins). Well, a son set out to cure his mother of her obsession with "saas-bahu" soaps on TV and focus on her culinary skills but instead found his own feet as an entrepreneur.

TBK had come to a grinding halt after the nationwide lockdown last year, which possibly allowed the time to write. "Through this book, I hope to inspire you. I hope to make you laugh a little and I hope that you take away this, if nothing else -- if I can do it, so can you," Kapadia maintains.

Central to the TBK Home Dining Experience is the Bohra Thaal that Kapadia (then still with Google but quit soon after) and his mother devised. The average thaal is a large steel platter three feet in diameter placed on a square cloth mat called a safra around which seven or eight guests are seated.

Once all the guests arrive, the pre-plated thaal is placed before them with condiments that include pudina chutney, pineapple and boondi raita, aam chunda (a sweet raw mango preserve with chilli powder, kokum aloo, Bhavnagri mirchis, aamba halad (two types of fresh turmeric and black pepper pickled in vinegar) and a bowl of lemon wedges.

The food is served on the thaal course-wise, starting with a kharaas or a savoury item such as TBK's now famous Smoked Mutton Kheema Samosas. This may be followed by a Nariyal Kebab (tiny vegetarian kababs stuffed with mashed potato, spring onions and desiccated coconut).

Eating the samosa is an art in itself. You bite off the top and squeeze in some lime juice and green chutney to get the full flavour of the smoked mutton kheema -- an experience that invariably has guests asking for more!

The kharaas is followed by a meethas or sweet dish (to help balance the gut), for instance, a Malai Khaja, a kind of Bohra Baklava.

Then comes the more serious food like the Raan in Red Masala -- a one kilo plus a leg of a goat marinated for over two days and cooked on a high pressure flame for a couple of hours.

The next up is the jaman aka main course -- it could be either Kaari Chawal or a Bohra Dam Biryani.

Next up is the hand churned Sancha Ice Cream made in a wooden barrel with a steel cylinder fitted inside, followed by a Gundi Paan.

The aim is to ensure that "when someone is done with the meal and leaves our home, they do so not only with full stomachs but with their hearts and minds full as well.

"The world's best brands and businesses are built on authenticity, creativity and their ability to give customers something unique.

"Now, imagine of you knew nothing about our culture and eating practices, and you were taken through the whole experience of eating home-made Bohra fare in the home of a Bohra family as their guests. Wouldn't that be an experience worth hosting every weekend," Kapadia writes.

"Since the inception of TBK, we have gone from strength to strength where the brand's PR, outreach and visibility were concerned. I have made the cover of Forbes India, featured in Conde Naste Traveller and Entrepreneur magazines. TBK is a two-time winner of the Times Food Award. Mom has been recognised as the Best Home Chef of the Year (2018) by the Indian Restaurant Congress. We won the rising star award at Mid-Day's The Guide Restaurant Awards 2018; Mom was thrilled to receive the award from Shilpa Shetty Kundra, one of her favourite Bollywood actors," Kapadia writes.

And, with the Home Dining Experience on firm ground, it was time to expand TBK's reach with a second kitchen at Worli for the delivery business and five cloud kitchens in the suburbs that were each clocking 200 biryani deliveries a day -- collectively doing business of Rs 35 lakh a month by August 2019.

On the comeback trail since January, the extensive Ramzan special menu includes an Iftar Meal Box, Haleem with Khammi Roti, Mutton Paya with Sheermal Bread, Raan in Red Masala, and, of course, Smoked Mutton Qeema Samosas. (IANS)

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