Imagine returning home from your evening walk or gym to the aroma of freshly cooked kadhai paneer or chicken curry, which instantly reminds you of home. Now, what if you were to know that it was no human that lovingly prepared this piping hot and delicious meal, but rather, a machine?
From booking cabs to ordering food right at your doorstep, technology makes human lives easy. So it’s about time it saves humans from having to cook after a long tiring day at work, or at times when you’re just not in the mood to enter the kitchen.
The NOSH device, developed by the Euphotic Labs, was conceived by Yatin Varachhia, co-founder of the Bengaluru-based startup. The 34-year-old says the inspiration to build a device stemmed from his struggle of having good food.
“I belong to Kantva, a small village in Gujarat, and moved to Bengaluru to study in 2008. I completed my post-graduation in science from the Indian Institute of Science and worked with multinational companies. But through all those years, I struggled to access good food and became tired of restaurants,” he tells The Better India.
Yatin’s struggle continued even after he was married, as he and his wife juggled their professional life and commute, and could not find time to cook meals. Yatin shared his ordeal with friends, who all echoed his sentiments. “I discussed it with nearly 100 people, of which 50% lived in the US. The case was no different in either country. My friends in USA could not find authentic Indian food and had no time to cook it themselves,” he shares.
Many friends also complained about their unhealthy food habits and how they relied on ready-to-eat packaged food, and even upset their stomach by eating restaurant food.
In 2016-17, Yatin discussed the idea with his friends Pranav Raval, Amit Gupta and Sudeep. The three decided to join hands in developing a device that cooks food and solves their woes for good.
Consistent taste promised
After three years of tireless efforts, six prototypes and multiple iterations, the group innovated NOSH, which cooks 120+ food items according to the user’s taste requirements and preferences – all in three easy steps.lets
Explaining the functioning, Yatin says the machine is about the size of a microwave and requires ingredients and spices to be filled in designated containers. “There are slots for the spices, oil and water. The main ingredients such as vegetables, paneer or meat go in the tray. The next step is to choose the desired item for cooking and let the machine do the hard work,” he says.
He adds, “While there is no person involved in the process, the time required for cooking remains the same. The machine follows the exact order as prescribed in the recipe and ensures the ingredients blend and cook uniformly.”
Yatin says the innovative device was designed and manufactured in India. “The device is equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) and is mobile app-driven, enabling it to cook one-pot dishes such as matar paneer, fish curry and others,” he adds. Additionally, users can track calories, customise dishes to their taste, and build new recipes.
Amit, co-founder of Euphotic Labs, says, “While the concept that a single machine can churn multiple food items is fascinating, the building part was equally challenging.”
“The NOSH is a new category product, and we did not have any available products for reference or to learn from. We had to develop multiple iterations and conduct several experiments,” he says, adding that each food item demands different treatment, and the device had to be taught how to do so.
Citing an example, Amit says, “Roasting rava is a continuous process and happens consistently. The machine should understand and follow the due method, or the rava will burn. It is the same with frying onions for cooking a curry. The ingredients and spices should only be introduced after the onions turn golden brown.”
Amit says that as humans, we can make multiple hand movements to move ingredients around during cooking. However, the robot has four motions to achieve the same with equal efficiency. “The robot started with potato fry and later scaled up to make complicated dishes,” he adds.
Amit says finances were another challenge. “We were fortunate to receive financial support from the Government of India, a few investors, as well as friends and family along the way, helping drive this dream of technological innovation,” he says, adding that the team is in the process of raising a seed round.
‘Does not taste like machine-made food’
Amit says the technology has already received 190 pre-orders. “The COVID-19 pandemic prevented us from taking the products to our users on a wider scale and demonstrating at events or exhibitions. But it has made the need of the device more evident,” he explains.
The NOSH costs Rs 50,000, and pre-order rates are at Rs 40,000.
Siddhartha Ghosh, an initial trial user and a consultant, says he learned about the device through mutual friends. “We all are used to microwave ovens and OTGs. But the prospect of a machine cooking food became enticing for me and my wife, Niharika. We cook poha, upma, biryani, kadhai paneer, chicken khurchan, garlic prawn and pasta regularly. We were highly impressed with the quality of food,” he says, adding that the machine eliminates the possibility of human errors and delivers consistent taste every time.
Niharika adds that the surprising factor was that the food did not taste like it was not cooked by humans. “I was sceptical about a machine cooking meals, but my perspective changed entirely. Moreover, the machine does not require any supervision, which is the most convenient part.”
Yatin says that their startup is addressing an omnipresent problem. “We aim to target customers in the USA, and we have identified four million Indians craving freshly cooked home meals at their convenience. There are consumers across Asia, the UK, Australia and other parts of the world. We are preparing for on-field trials in the USA parallel to establishing a production line,” he adds.
On a concluding note, Yatin says, “Our vision is to make the food experience effortless so that it allows everyone to enjoy freshly cooked food as per their taste preference, work schedule and health requirement.”
To watch the user trial click here.
Edited by Divya Sethu