From ‘Sabz Haakh’ to the authentic Kashmiri style fish, Rukhsana Manzoor has come a long way delivering happiness in the form of food.
Age is just a number for a mother of three. 54-year-old Rukhsana, from Chanapora area of Srinagar, started her business a year back and is quite successful.
Rukhsana runs a home-based cloud kitchen ‘Ghar Batt'i' where she serves authentic, homemade Kashmiri cuisine for potlucks, gatherings, and small parties.
“I started my cloud kitchen in September 2020. I had no idea that this would work,” said Rukhsana who has worked as a teacher for 20 long years.
Rukhsana left teaching job for some unknown reasons, but she still wanted to be independent.
“During the times of the pandemic, my husband's business was badly affected, due to which it was getting very difficult to make ends meet,” she said.
Rukhsana venturing into this business has a story behind it.
“One fine day, my daughter came up with the idea of starting a Tiffin service. I gave her a nod as I have always been very passionate about cooking,” said Rukhsana adding “this is how it started. Though my husband wasn't happy about it at the beginning, now he is the one who helps and supports me the most.”
From serving a single tiffin for the initial days of her venture, to delivering thousands of orders today, Rukhsana has come a long way.
“We serve all kinds of simple dishes as well as authentic Kashmiri food,” said Rukhsana.
She prepares all the food by herself and doesn’t use any sort of artificial taste enhancers or food colour. “As the name suggests, it’s absolutely Ghar Batt'i, definitely the healthiest food option you can go for,” she said.
Rukhsana struggled a lot since the beginning of her business venture.
“I do not have much time for any social interaction. My relatives believe I have been cut-off from the rest of the world after starting this venture, but I don't mind as long as I am living my dream,” she said.
Rukhsana has dedicated herself to her work and hopes to start delivering food on a very large scale someday. Ghar Batt’i within a year has made a very strong customer base.
“I get a lot of prayers and wishes from my customers. I even get calls from the Kashmiris living overseas, asking me to somehow deliver the food to them and this is my biggest achievement,” said Rukhsana.
Ghar Batt’i has delivered around 5000 orders since its inception. The food is affordable for everybody who wishes to have pure, homemade food.
The orders are usually taken four to six hours prior to delivery. “We have tied up with a well-known food delivery service of the valley. When the order load is more, my kids support in delivering,” said Rukhsana.
Ghar Batt’i currently delivers food across Srinagar city and Rukhsana’s overall experience in this venture has been wonderful so far.
“My work has become my identity and I feel good for being able to deliver homemade food to people who are far away from home. Those who have nobody to cook or the ladies who aren't able to cook due to their hectic jobs love to avail my food services,” she said.
Homefoods by Rukshan
The passion for cooking and experimenting with different flavours drove 26-year-old Rukshan Riyaz to start her venture ‘Homefoods’ in June this year.
“I love presenting basic food with different tinge of flavours and I got this art of cooking from my mother. She has been cooking different types of mouth-watering foods,” said Rukshan.
Rukshan never thought of using her cooking skills as a profession till her sister-in-law convinced her for the same.
“My sister-in-law pushed me to venture into the business where I can use my passionate cooking skills,” she said adding “my family’s support, my mother’s inspiration and my sister-in-law’s motivation is something that made me shape my skill into my profession.”
Rukshan’s Homefoods provide all types of foods. “To start with the desi breakfast (parathas) stuffed with a variety of fillings, my menu includes a wide range of sandwiches, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, with different flavours,” she said.
Recently she introduced ‘Bowls’ to the menu which, she says, is the first of its kind of concept in Srinagar. Bowls is a mixture of marinated Chicken, Rajma, Paneer piled with rice and loads of cheese, salsa, schezwan sauce and mayonnaise, she said.
“I take customised pre- orders for non-vegetarian gravies like Mutton Masala, Chicken Rogan, Chicken Tikka biryani, Roast chicken ghee curry,” said Rukshan adding the food she serves is purely home cooked made with authentic ingredients without use of any artificial tasting substance. Even the sauces served by Homefoods are homemade.
Rukshan introduced this venture in the present covid time and has made sure that all protocols are being followed. “Initially, I was sceptical about how the response would be since it was home. Introducing simple but with delicious flavour was challenging,” she said.
Her family has been very supportive throughout her journey. She said, “my family was really happy to see the initiative being quite successful and that kept me going.”
Rukshan said, “The response has been very good. It makes me happy to see that the food I prepare is being loved and the orders are increasing in number.”
The menu of Homefoods is available on the Gatoes app and on Instagram.
Currently, Homefoods deliver to the neighbouring areas with the help of delivery agents and the other areas are covered by Gatoes.
“I have tied up with Gatoes which help me in delivering food to serviceable areas including Chanapora, Natipora, Rambagh, Allouchi bagh and Sanat Nagar. I am working on getting my delivery services expanded. I try to cover new areas every day,” said Rukshan.
Rukshan’s experience has been wonderful overall. “I really relish the compliments I receive. It feels great to see my hard work paying off,” she said.
“The compliments we receive from the customers has motivated us to give our best day by day,” Rukshan concludes.