When Jammu resident Riddhima Arora’s (29) father became sick, she took a three-month break from her brand marketing job to stay at home and care for him. “My 59-year-old father was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis, and doctors said there was nothing they could do, because his condition was worsening rapidly. While he was at home, I spent my time ensuring he ate nutritious food that is clean and locally sourced,” Riddhima tells The Better India, adding that she began treating her father with various herbal teas, ayurvedic concoctions, and traditional foods.
After strictly excluding packaged food and items with preservatives, the family began sourcing all their ingredients from local farmers. Some of the food Riddhima’s father consumed regularly consisted of medicinal herbs like haridati (Indian hog plum) and harad, which has antiseptic properties.
“Within three months, his condition started improving, and he was feeling better. Though liver cirrhosis is incurable, my father was able to regain his strength by changing his food habits and exercising regularly. Now, he goes to work every day and takes care of our 80-year-old family business of selling dry fruits, medicinal herbs, organic produce, and ayurvedic medicine,” says Riddhima.
Seeing how her father’s condition deteriorated and improved depending on the food he was consuming, Riddhima was motivated to help others change their lives by altering their eating habits as well.
“Most people have the habit of picking instant “healthy” food without checking the ingredients used to make them. Sugar-free products, diet supplements, and other foods labelled as “healthy” alternatives all have at least one harmful ingredient in them, including preservatives, maida, or fructose. So, I decided to launch a series of ayurvedic, herbal, and healthy products using family recipes,” she says, adding that in 2019, she quit her job for good to set up her business.
By the end of 2019, she launched Namhya Foods — a series of healthy products ranging from herbal teas to regulate liver and heart health, to instant breakfast mixes, immunity-boosting lattes, healthy snacks, and PCOS and diabetes controlling teas.
Riddhima started by sourcing and compiling various recipes that had been passed down from generations. She approached various ayurvedic experts who helped her understand the ratios and proportions of ingredients for various recipes. Apart from this, she also took a three-month ayurvedic certification course at the UVAS Ayurveda, Bangalore in collaboration with International Academy of Ayurveda.
“Though I was familiar with ayurvedic concepts because of my family’s influence, the course helped me refresh and upgrade the knowledge I had,” says Riddhima.
Through the contacts her family had, and by connecting with local farmers, she created a supply chain for raw material. She says this took a few months, because farmers who cultivate indigenous herbs and plants were hard to find. To ensure the produce was organic, before confirming the vendor, Riddhima would visit the farms herself and take a look at the agricultural processes.
Then, she used a family-owned space to set up her manufacturing unit and procured necessary machinery for grinding, cutting, and packaging. Finally, she hired some locals with cooking skills to help her make the products.
“After a few months of R&D, we officially launched three herbal teas in January 2020,” she says.
Aryan Mehra (20) and his grandfather, who are both residents of Amritsar, Punjab say they have benefitted from Riddhima’s products. After being diagnosed with a few blocks in his heart valves, Aryan’s grandfather was advised to eat healthy by doctors.
“I came across Namhya Foods on Instagram in April of 2020, and I purchased the ‘Heart Tea’ for my grandfather. After consuming it regularly for three months and changing other food habits, his condition improved. Even doctors noted it during follow-up appointments,” says Aryan.
Today, after completing one year of operations, Namhya Foods offers 26 different products, including turmeric latte powder, diabetes/heart/liver care tea, ragi/millet based breakfast mix, PCOS regulating drink, and child-friendly cocoa-flavoured cinnamon latte.
Riddhima says that the company recently clocked a turnover of over Rs 1 crore, and that the products are available across India, as well as in countries like Canada and UAE.