Maacher jhol or khichdi— these 5 foodtech startups are dishing out comfort food at the click of a button
From Ola’s Khichdi Experiment to Nativ Chef’s traditional offerings – the Indian foodie is spoilt for choice. A look at some of the country’s unique foodtech startups on National Comfort Food Day.
All of us have had experiences when nothing but food will comfort us.
Bad day? Hot chocolate.
Feeling fancy? A bowl of meatball spaghetti.
There’s food for every mood, but there’s no food like comfort food.
Comfort food is usually a dish that has some kind of sentiment associated with it. It’s food that reminds us of mom, of home, or of a distant emotion otherwise forgotten.
On National Comfort Food Day, YourStory takes you on an emotional (and mouthwatering) ride. Here are some of the country’s foodtech startups that can help you revisit your favourite food memories and savour a delicious dish, while you are stuck far from home.
La Kheer Deli
Every important day in an Indian’s life, irrespective of which part of the country they hail from, has one thing in common — kheer. Call it payasam, halwa, phirni, or pudding— kheer occupies a special place in every Indian’s heart.
Started by siblings Shivang and Shivika Sood, La Kheer Deli or LKD gives a glocal twist to the regular kheer. The duo convinced their mother to quit her teaching job and start LKD in May 2017.
Pune-based LKD offers flavours like dry fruit kheer, blackcurrant, Nutelloreo (a concoction of Nutella and Oreo flavours), and mocha, among many more. Besides selling its innovative kheers off a cart, LKD has also partnered with Zomato, Swiggy, and UberEats for online order delivery.
Try as many cuisines from across the world, but nothing will match up to the food prepared in your mother’s kitchen. Life is indeed a bit tough if you have moved out of your hometown for higher education or work and you often have to subsist on food ordered off online delivery platforms.
Tapping into the universal love for home food, Leena Dixit Gundewar left her cushy corporate job to start up Nativ Chefs. Founded in 2018, the Nagpur-based startup brings traditional cuisines from different corners of India under one umbrella.
The startup claims to have curated and serves recipes that are traditional and have been passed down in families for generations. Currently operating on a cloud-kitchen model, Nativ Chefs offers delicacies ranging from Bengal’s ‘Dimer Devil’ to Gujarat’s ‘Dabeli Dhokla’.
Comfort food is synonymous for many with khichdi. A warm bowl of rice and pulses, flavoured with vegetables and a tadka of masalas is all one needs on a sick day. And, bringing that to you in a single click is Ola’s ‘Khichdi Experiment’.
Launched last year, Khichdi Experiment is currently operational across Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, Pune, and Chennai. With cloud kitchens everywhere else, Khichdi Experiment launched its first store in Bengaluru recently.
Says Pranay Jivrajka, CEO, Ola Foods,
“Khichdi is India’s original answer to the comfort-food craving and is an iconic and integral part of our homes.”
The idea behind launching KE was to offer home-style comfort food to its customers and “let them experience a feeling of nostalgia and home all combined in one bowl”, says Pranay.
According to him, they also wanted to give a twist to the traditional khichdi and hence came up with different variants inspired by the flavours popular in different parts of the country. “With a strong focus on quality, hygiene, and food technology innovation, the brand offers a carefully curated assortment of khichdis, whether it’s our healthy ‘Palak Paneer’ or ‘Mumbaiyaa Pav Bhaji’ flavour,” he adds.
Currently serving thousand-plus customers every day, Khichdi Experiment offers more than 16 varieties of khichdi and is working on other variants.
Following a similar home-cooked model—because one can never have enough of that kind of food—is Mumbai-based Comfort Curries. It is a platform that has a network of chefs who are connected to consumers looking for authentic cuisines from across the country, including Bohri, Bengali, South Indian, Rajasthani, Malwa, Parsi, and Sindhi.
The foodtech startup was founded in October 2018 by Hamza Bandookwala and his mother, Fakhera. Customers can order online through Comfort Curries’ website, other delivery platforms, and through WhatsApp.
For all the days when khichdi doesn’t quite appease the palate, there’s a plate of sumptuous and flavourful biryani. Founded by self-proclaimed foodies Kapil Mathrani, Rohan Bhatt, and Poojan Thakkar, Makhni Brothers serves hardcore foodies hot plates of biryani.
The Ahmedabad-based foodtech startup was founded in 2019 to serve biryani and other Indian delicacies. Working under parent company BigSpoon Foods, Makhni Brothers operates on a cloud-kitchen setup and offers all your favourite north-Indian delicacies. From butter paneer to dal bukhara—you name it, and Makhni Brothers will deliver the dish at your doorstep.
Online cloud-kitchen platform InnerChef has several brands under it - Bombay Sandwich Company, YumYumDili, YumYum South, Thalis of India, Healthie and more recently, Grandma's Khichdi. The company was founded by Rajesh Sawhney, Sanjeev Singhal and Bal DiGhent in 2015.
When the Co-founders were looking for ideas before starting up InnerChef, they first thought of an ingredient box. The idea was to send a box filled with prepped ingredients in the perfect amount required to create a dish, the recipe for which would also be provided. This concept was launched in April 2015, but within a few months, the trio realised that the model would take time to scale, and that the Indian market would take close to five years to warm up to the idea. That is how InnerChef moved on to become an online internet kitchen.
"Comfort food of India is Khichdi; every household of India has a version of it. And Khichdi is associated with love and care. We have launched Grandma’s Khichdi to bring authentic home style khichdis made in pure ghee. These are extremely healthy and tasty. Each recipe is contributed by a Grandma," says Rajesh.
Grandma's Khichdi is available from 34 kitchens in six cities and can be ordered on Swiggy, Zomato and UberEats. Every month InnerChef plans to launch a new khichdi recipe, contributed by a Grandma from one of the parts of India.
(Edited by Athirupa Geetha Manichandar)