Imagine you’re out in public and get a sudden craving for idlis, and there are no 24-hours open south Indian restaurants. You might get hold of a packet of idli batter, but what about cooking it?
Bengaluru native Sharan Hiremath has just come up with a quick fix to satisfy our cravings for fluffy, steaming idli — a robot.
It all began when Sharan’s sick five-year-old daughter was craving idlis on a winter night in 2016. Unable to offer her the dish at the time, he turned to a unique solution. Three years later, he had launched Freshot Robotics, and designed an idli robot that he says can produce 72 idlis in 12 minutes.
“I have always believed that the future of the food industry is going to be fully automated. This incident was the final trigger for me to start something accordingly. The younger generation know very little about cooking and hardly have time to learn it. We found food robots as an alternative,” says Sharan, a computer science engineer and owner of a food company.
Sharan sought help in designing the bot from Suresh Chandrashekaran, a product designer from Bengaluru, who is now the chief product officer of Freshot.
Suresh says, “Sharan is a client turned friend. His idea of this first-of-its-kind robot will undoubtedly aid people in making their life easier. When he shared this idea, I wanted to design a bot that can take care of most of the work by itself. Least human interference was of topmost priority. With two years and 10 months of trial and error, we came up with the product.” Suresh studied product designing at IIT-Mumbai.
Fresh and on-the-go
The duo’s initial plan was to manufacture three robots and manage them on their own at different locations. However, this plan developed into one of co-ownership, where people can invest in the idea and share profits.
“We have no intention to sell the robot. However, over 100 enquiries have been received from interested parties. We will share the idea of bots with our potential co-owners and they can take it from there for sales or anything,” explains Suresh.
He adds that till date, they have made an investment of Rs 2 crore. The price of a bot is between Rs 18-20 lakh. “This is definitely not meant for individuals or families. Places like airports, railway stations, offices, highways or large apartment complexes can have a robot installed which can reach hundreds of people,” says Suresh.
Suresh has also innovated a separate bot to make sambar and two types of chutneys as side dishes for idli.
In addition, the company is manufacturing other bots to prepare steamed food items like lemon rice and dosa, as well as juice and panipuri. When asked about such distinctions and innovations, Suresh says, “We are experimenting on a daily basis and ask for feedback from homemakers, vloggers, chefs and whoever is interested in this field by conducting idli parties. Necessary changes are made thereafter.”
Idlis made by these robots come with different toppings as well. “At present, these include chocolate, peri peri, italian herbs and nuts. Around 5.5 litres of batter to cook 350 idlis can be held in one drum. Two such drums are installed,” adds Suresh.
“Once the co-ownership idea works out, we hope that everyone can access idlis at any time, at least in Bengaluru,” says Sharan.
(Edited by Divya Sethu)
All picture credits: Suresh Chandrashekar