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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

To beat lockdown woes, domestic worker turns entrepreneur with her food business

On the menu presently are only two dishes -- Mangalorean style Crab Curry and Reddy's chicken curry -- and orders are being taken only on weekends. However, Saroj plans to expand her little kitchen when she develops a regular customer base.

Written by Avantika Chopra | New Delhi | Updated: July 29, 2020 5:39:42 pm
Bengaluru, Bengaluru domestic worker, home kitchen, Saroj Didi kitchen, twitter viral story, Saroj Didi, who began her cooking journey at the age of 10, credits a cook from Kolkata for the culinary skills.

From cooking and cleaning in homes to selling flowers on the roadside, Saroj Didi has had to adorn many hats to make ends meet and feed her family of three children. However, when the pandemic struck, it only added to her woes, leaving her and countless other domestic workers with a big hole in their pockets.

With an existing debt due to a property dispute and depleting savings, Saroj, who is the sole bread earner for her family, found help from Ankit Vengulerkar, who aided the 47-year-old in setting up a food home-delivery business from his home in Bengaluru.

“I was facing a lot of financial issues. The virus outbreak intensified the difficulties and struggles. Which is when Ankit baba suggested this idea. He really helped me out,” Saroj Didi told the indianexpress.com.

While Saroj Didi does the cooking, Vengulerkar handles the orders, packaging and delivering side. “He buys the ingredients as per the order requirements and helps packs them after I am done cooking,” she said.

The story came to limelight after Vengulerkar, who works at a private firm, announced the new venture on his Twitter page and since then there has been a flurry of orders. “I just thought that the food is great, people would love to buy it and whatever money comes can help uplift her up financially,” he said.

On the menu presently are only two dishes — Mangalorean style Crab Curry and Reddy’s chicken curry — and orders are being taken only on weekends. However, Saroj plans to expand her little kitchen when she develops a regular customer base.

“It has really given her a sense of purpose. In the last four days, she has made Rs 6000, which otherwise she would earn in an entire month by cooking and cleaning in various houses,” Vengulerkar

However, this is not her first tryst in an entrepreneurial role. About 19 years ago, Saroj and her husband started a small roadside shop. Tragedy struck when her husband died in 2003 and Saroj Didi had to wind up her business.

“We sold snacks such as idli-dosa, lemon rice, tomato rice, vada sambar near our small accommodation in MG Road. After the death of my husband, I could not handle it alone. It was not possible to look after three kids as well as the food business. So I had to shut it and look out for other small jobs,” she said.

Married at the age of 13, Saroj Didi, who began her cooking journey at the age of 10, credited a cook from Kolkata for her culinary skills. “Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Gujrat, I can cook delicacies of almost every state,” she said.

“I was 10 years old when I came to Bangalore to work in a madam’s house. In the lady’s house was a cook from Kolkata who taught me many dishes. It is there only that I developed an interest in cooking,” she further said.

Now, with her 30 years of cooking experience, Saroj Didi is back to fascinate the residents of HSR layout in Bangalore with her delectable dishes. “I am very happy with the response. I will cook and if God permits, I will achieve the things I have planned,” she said.

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