“After having survived a very bad bout of COVID-19 in March 2020 it took me a long time to recover. The doctors were on the verge of giving up on me when I suddenly bounced back,” says Kamaljit Kaur (51), a resident of Mumbra, Thane.
A second lease on life pushed Kamaljit to think about her growing up years, and flashes of the fields and the food she grew up came back to her. “Having grown up in a small village in Ludhiana, access to fresh milk was a huge bonus. The fresh milk meant that we always had a steady supply of ghee, paneer and other products made of milk. The one thing I missed sorely when I moved to Mumbai was the freshness of the milk,” says Kamaljit to The Better India.
Her son, Harpreet Singh says, “Mom [Kamaljit] was always making ghee and Panjiris (a dessert made in winters, especially for pregnant women) for my friends and one of them mentioned how this had great business potential.”
He adds, “My mom has played so many roles – a daughter, a wife, a mother and a friend but the one thing that she hadn’t done was earn her own money. So, at 50, being able to become an entrepreneur has been a rather emotional moment for her and everyone else in the family.”
The Launch of Kimmu’s Kitchen
“Having only consumed fresh milk, butter, ghee and vegetables, I do not recollect falling ill often as a child. Catching a cold was something that happened maybe once a year. However, once I got married and moved to Mumbai, things changed. Life became fast-paced and here one would often catch a cold,” she says.
Kimmu’s Kitchen was launched in December 2020 after almost three months of market research. This is a startup that specialises in farm-fresh ghee, which is free of additives, preservatives or any kind of harmful chemicals. It is made with the traditional Bilona method, straight from Kamaljit’s village in Ludhiana. “In the initial few weeks of running the business, I was procuring milk from local vendors in Mumbra. However, something was lacking and I didn’t get the same taste I would from the milk procured from my village,” says Kamaljit. Not wanting to compromise on the taste and quality of her products, Kamaljit started looking for ways to transport the milk from her village in Ludhiana to Mumbra.
“I have never once purchased store-bought ghee, which would be blasphemous,” she says with a laugh. “Whether in my parents’ home in Ludhiana or when I got married and moved to Mumbai with my in-laws – ghee was always made fresh at home,” she continues. It was this desire to bring the taste I grew up on to Mumbai that led to a business idea.
The Bilona Method
While there are various ways of making ghee, Kanaljit and her family follow a method called Bilona. She explains, “This is a process which requires us to make ghee from curd and not directly from butter or cream. A majority of the ghee that is sold in the market is made using butter or cream.”
This traditional method of making ghee is quite elaborate. Cow’s milk is boiled and cooled. Then a spoonful of curd is added to this milk and kept at room temperature overnight. The curd is then churned to extract butter from it. This butter is then boiled so that the water evaporates leaving behind pure ghee.
At Kimmu’s Kitchen, buffalo milk is used to make the ghee and Kamaljit says, “There are days when we get close to 100 orders, and then on some days it’s just half of that. There are days when we get zero orders as well. So, while it becomes very difficult to say exactly how the business will do, I am happy with the way it has progressed.”
Explaining how the entire business has been set up, Harpreet, who is also the Consultant Chief Technology Officer at Kimmu’s Kitchen, says, “We come from a family of farmers and while the infrastructure was in place we needed to make some modifications to suit our own business needs. “To get this business going we added more buffaloes and modified the existing stove, etc. to make it compatible to make the ghee. This set-up cost us close to Rs 8 lakh.”
The central unit where all the ghee is made is in the village in Ludhiana and once made it is transported to Mumbai for packaging and distribution.
There are three different sized ghee bottles available for retail – 220 ml, 500 ml and 1 litre. The 220 ml is priced at Rs 399 and the cost increases according to the quantity being purchased.
Today, Kimmu’s Kitchen is clocking a revenue of Rs 20 lakh month on month and ships out over 4,500 bottles of ghee each month. “A portion of the revenue earned is used to do service — whether it is feeding people at the gurudwaras or any other kind of service,” says Kamaljit. With much excitement, Harpreet adds, “So far we were shipping only within India but just a few weeks ago we have received an order to ship to Poland!”
“We couldn’t be prouder of mom. Seeing her hard work pay off is so encouraging for us as well,” concludes Harpreet.
To buy the ghee from Kimmu’s Kitchen, log in here.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)