Basant Kumar Chandrakar, a resident of Chhattisgarh and a popular ‘bhajiya’ stall owner has made a handheld machine to ease his work. Now, over 200 shops in the city are using his device.
How many bhajjiyas/pakoras (fritters) do you think can be made in about 15 minutes?
Basant Kumar Chandrakar (36), a resident of Chhattisgarh, says that approximately half a kilogram of bhajjiyas/pakoras or mangodis can be made in about 15 minutes.
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However, this was not quick enough for his business.
The owner of a shop selling mangodi (prepared by soaking any particularly dal in water for six to eight hours and grinding it into a paste after adding salt to taste), bhajjiyas and pakoras, Basant wanted to be able to churn out as many bhajjyas as possible in a minute. To be able to do that he built a mangodi/bhajjiya-making machine.
Basant, who completed his education until class 12, tells The Better India, “I could not afford to continue my education. My family’s financial condition did not allow for that. To make ends meet I started by taking on various odd jobs. For almost a decade I continued this way until I set up the mangodi shop.”
Mangodi or pakoras as a snack is eaten for breakfast and as a snack in the evenings in the region. Encashing on this delicacy, Basant set up his shop catering to this crowd. “The stall is usually busy in the mornings when people are looking for a quick breakfast option. The best part is that I have also been able to employ three people at the stall.”
Business fraught with challenges
While Basant was certain of the quality of food he was preparing the issue was with keeping up with the demand. He says, “Every morning there would be a long line of people waiting for the pakora/mangodi but I was never able to make it fast enough to get it to them. Sometimes people would go away disappointed because they had to wait for a long while to get their order. I was not just losing business but my goodwill was also getting a beating.”
He started by looking for machines that would reduce the time taken to make the mangodis.
Unfortunately, there was no such machine available in the market so he decided to use his time and resources to make one.
In the process of making the machine, he says, “I knew exactly what I needed the machine to do. I started by using various materials to build one. The first prototype I made was of plastic and I realised that due to the high flame, which is used to fry the mangodis/pakoras, even the machine was melting.” This led him to look for other materials that could be used in their place.
A few months of trial and error later, Basant came up with a steel version of the machine that not just looked sturdy but was also doing a great job.
Necessity – the mother of all inventions
Most of the machines available in the market were industrial-sized and could not be customised to suit the needs of a small business owner. That is when Basant came up with the idea of working on creating a small handheld machine.
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The early morning hours were dedicated to all the research and development of the machine. “I would wake up early and start working on the product. With every new prototype I made, I managed to learn something new and better the product. After about two and a half months I was happy with what I had come up with,” he says.
This is a small handheld device that allows the user to make up to 1 kg of bhajjiys or mangodis in 10 minutes, which is double what one can do manually. With a better understanding of how to use the device one can even make 1 kg in about five minutes, he says.
With a keenness to take this innovation to many others across the country, in 2018, Basant got an opportunity to display this machine at the National Innovation Foundation at the India International Science Festival, Lucknow. It was Basant who reached out to the foundation telling them about his innovation.
“Upon receipt of my details a team from the foundation came to check my innovation and invited me to be a part of the science festival. That was yet another milestone that I will cherish,” he says. He also received a grant of Rs 25,000 from the foundation which he used to better his model and display it at the science festival.
“The first few prototypes cost me close to Rs 600 per piece and many of them did not even work well.
The working machine that I now make costs Rs 800 per piece to make,” he adds.
Even when the staff at the shop is less, using the machine to make the mangodis is easier.
Since Basant’s primary job continues to be running the mangodi and bhajjiya shop, he can make these machines only in the mornings before work. So far he has made and sold over 200 machines to other small stall owners in Chhattisgarh. There have been some orders from outside the state as well, which he couriers.
Manish Sahu, a resident of Nagpur who runs a mangodi and bhajiya shop and purchased the machine from Basant, says, “From being able to make only about 10 kg of mangodi earlier, we now make over 40 kg to sell each day. This has increased our sales as well. The ease of use and its size make it a great machine to use.”
Here are a few videos of how his unique machine works:
The cost price of this machine is Rs 1,200 and Basant can be reached at +91-7000816817 for further enquiries and placing of orders.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)