Harsha Thachery’s startup, Masala Box, has helped over 200 home chefs in Bengaluru and Kochi sell food made in their own kitchens while adhering to FSSAI guidelines.
One of the many disadvantages of living away from home, apart from not being with your family, is the hankering for homemade food. While fast food and restaurant takeaways may be a quick fix for some, they fail to replicate the taste of a good, home-cooked meal.
But Harsha Thachery, who has been providing homemade food to their customers for the last six years, has found a solution. Through her label, Masala Box, she has been catering to customers in Kochi and Bengaluru and has served over a million meals.
She tells The Better India that it all started with a pregnancy craving.
The ‘homesick’ market
“It was during my pregnancy that I started to become more conscious of the food I eat,” Harsha begins. She adds, “I wanted healthy food for my baby and me. At the time, I had a craving for tasty yet healthy meals. I searched a lot of menus for a really good, healthy meal but I couldn’t find even one. That is when I saw a market for healthy homemade food.”
She admits that it was her husband, Jugul Thachery, who suggested that she should start a service which provides homemade food not only to pregnant women but also to those who stay away from home and miss homemade food.
A box filled with goodness
In August 2014, the brand Masala Box was born. Speaking about the brand’s name, Harsha says, “I looked up many names for brands and ended up choosing this one because it reminded me of my grandmother. She had what was called a ‘masala box’ — something that had often caught my eye when I was growing up. I remember it very distinctly.”
She adds, “I also felt that this name would be easy to remember for customers, and the domain name for it was also available.”
As the first step, the former chartered accountant took a list of 100 home chefs in Kochi and after testing samples of their food, 20 chefs were hired. Soon, with the help of her husband, she created the website for Masala Box and it wasn’t long before the orders began to trickle in.
While 95% of the chefs at Masala Box are women, Harsha says, “We are open to hiring any gender but we currently have more women chefs, who are also homemakers, on staff. These chefs pack the food themselves to allow ownership of the way the food is presented,” Harsha says, adding that her venture has over 200 home chefs who prepare the food in their own kitchens while adhering to FSSAI guidelines.
The chefs prepare dynamic menus that change every day and till date have served over 500 different varieties of fresh, home-cooked meals. Harsha says that even though Masala Box offers a range of dishes, most of the orders received are for Biryani.
At the Masala Box, chefs are not allowed to cook for more than three days a week, the founder explains, as daily service can result in the loss of joy while cooking. Once the food is cooked, the chefs hand over the food to the delivery team, who deliver it to the customers’ doorstep.
While due to the pandemic woes, operations of the Masala Box in Kochi have been stopped, their Bengaluru operations still deliver over 1,500 home-cooked meals a day.
Along with providing South Indian meals, this home-cooking venture also provides North Indian ones. The founder claims that both non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes are made using “top quality” ingredients, which are prepared using regional recipes by the home chefs.
To try their healthy and tasty food, one can order from their website to get a home-cooked meal delivered to their doorstep.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)