This article is the second in our series ‘The Reinvention’ about women who adapted to the ‘new normal’ during the COVID lockdown and took a new direction in their career during this challenging period.
By Shweta Bhandral
Before the lockdown, Chitrangada Gupta, 23, had been working at a digital marketing agency in Gurgaon, while her grandma Maiyya Thapa, 82, a homemaker from Ghoom, near Darjeeling in West Bengal, was just visiting them. Bound together during lockdown in Delhi, they launched Boju’s Kitchen together, and now supply soft, hot scrumptious momos to eager customers across the national capital.
Since Maiyya’s husband was a mechanical engineer who often travelled for work, Maiyya ended up being the primary caregiver for their five children. “Her biggest achievement was sending all her kids to English-medium schools,” says Chitrangada. “The only thing that mattered to her was that all her kids should have degrees and that’s exactly what she achieved.”
Like every winter, Maiyya travelled from Darjeeling to Delhi to be with her daughter’s family in December 2019. The lockdown in March 2020 forced her to stay on. In the meantime, Chitrangada was two weeks into her new job that the lockdown was announced and she had to work from home.
Momos (or steamed dumplings) are part of the family’s culinary tradition. “My mom would feed momos to all of my friends whether it was someone’s birthday or just a small get-together,” narrates Chitrangada, who did her Bachelor’s in political science from Delhi University. And if her mother is a great momo chef, her nani is the mother of great momo chefs. “She makes the best momos in the world,” announces Chitrangada.
After a friend remarked, “Why don’t you start a venture otherwise you’re literally depriving people of these yummy momos,” they decided to start a home kitchen together, calling it Boju’s Kitchen (‘boju’ means grandmother in Nepali).
They have been inundated with orders, their bestselling products being their chicken steamed and chicken pan-fried momos. “We plan on adding more dishes to our menu and continuing it as a home delivery and takeaway venture,” says Chitrangada, adding that the minimum order is two plates but most people order about five.
The prices are quite reasonable considering the quality and care that goes into the making: starting from Rs 150 for a plate of 10 vegetarian momos and Rs 200 for 10 chicken or pork dumplings.
While the ladies have no problem churning out large quantities of momos every day, the delivery logistics are challenging. “We started this venture right when the Delhi monsoon began and every time we send out an order, we wait in anticipation hoping that the rider reaches on time!” They worked around the problem by taking orders one day in advance.
“It’s easy to start, and everything seems really exciting when the venture is in the initial stage, but it gets harder to innovate on how to generate more revenue,” says Chitrangada. At the moment, though, they’re moving ahead at full steam.
Place orders at +91 88824 15464
RECIPE: TOMATO MOMO DIP
3 green chillies; 1 big clove of garlic; 2 tomatoes (steamed or boiled); salt to taste
Take all the ingredients and grind them together to make the perfect momo chutney.
First published in eShe’s August 2020 issue
Syndicated to Money Control