Started With Rs 80, Engineer’s Homemade Biryani Business Earns Her Rs 1 Lakh/Month
Hyderabad-resident Naaz Anjum started a cloud kitchen from her home with just Rs 80 and a love for Biryani. This was in 2016. Today, she has served over 20,000 orders and earns Rs 1 Lakh per month.
When Naaz Anjum moved to Hyderabad in 2010 post marriage, she turned to her first love, cooking. A textile engineer by profession, she couldn’t pursue her career due to personal reasons. Having attended classes by celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor, she earned several fans for her cooking in her new home.
Her neighbours were enamoured by her food and couldn’t get enough of it. However, the bachelors in her building were the ones who actually inspired and pushed her to start her own business. They would initially drop in at the end of the day, requesting her for some curry or salan (a spicy gravy) to have with their dinner. Soon, they asked her to make tiffins for them, which kicked off her journey into the food business.
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Their insistence gave birth to ‘Anjum’s kitchen’, which became one of the first women-owned cloud kitchens in Hyderabad, leading to many more blossoming in its wake.
From delivering her first order in 2016, the home kitchen has now delivered over 20,000 orders so far. The enterprising chef delivered over 500 orders during the COVID-19 pandemic and keeps looking for new ways to deliver authentic homemade, healthy food to Hyderabadis.
Anjum’s drive reflects over the phone as she passionately talks about what food means to her. It’s been a vessel for her to achieve her dreams and serve others, she says.
Biryani- The meal to everyone’s heart
Persuaded by her neighbours, Anjum’s first trial of sorts was during the month of Ramadan in 2016 while making desserts. She sold her ‘Double Ka Meetha’, a delectable Hyderabadi dessert, and ‘lauki halwa’ (bottle gourd) at her brother-in-law’s restaurant. Both were a runaway success, and instilled confidence in Anjum that she was on the right path.
Shortly after, she received her first order, which she remembers like yesterday. It was a mutton dum biryani for a small home gathering in HITEC City. The guests relished it so much that they too started placing orders with her.
Her business has grown through word-of-mouth and via posts on her Facebook page. Anjum would make all the orders on her own from her kitchen, after she finished cooking for her children and husband.
When she started, no one thought she would grow so much, and she was a one-woman army. She laughs as she recalls that she started with just Rs 80.
“Anjum’s kitchen began all of a sudden, when I got the first order. I had confidence in myself and knew that I would do it. I used the Rs 80 to buy the vegetables I needed. I was the first home chef in Hyderabad at that time. Since it was new, no one knew whether something like this would even work,” Anjum tells The Better India.
It is this self-confidence and hard work that has made Anjum’s Kitchen so successful today. She has about 25-50 orders daily, which include daily tiffins and biryanis. She also gets party orders and dessert orders.
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She doesn’t do any marketing, she says, as she has her hands full. While she did everything from cooking to delivering by herself in the beginning, she soon had to hire two delivery boys and a help to prep the meals.
Her day starts at 4:30am with her morning prayers, followed by making breakfast for her three children at 6 am. After they are off to school, she enters the kitchen at 9 am for her daily orders.
“I make everything fresh daily. My husband gets the meat and vegetables every morning. Once my helper is done with the cutting-chopping-peeling, from 9am-12pm, I focus on making the curries, rice, and chapatis myself to not compromise on the taste,” she explains.
By 2 pm, her two delivery boys deliver all the orders across the city. After lunch, she starts working on her evening orders, which are mainly for parties, and include starters, biryanis, chicken curries and desserts. She accepts party orders about 4 times a week.
She sends these out by 5:30 pm after which it’s time for her kids to return from school.
A stickler for quality
What has made Anjum survive in the cloud kitchen business, which is extremely competitive today, is her constant innovations. When she realised that people wanted something beyond biryani, she introduced ‘iftar platter for one’, which includes a dahi wada, haleem, starters, fruits and dates, among other things.
“I introduce something new every few months as people expect that. You need to innovate constantly. I started with the iftar platter, which people really liked. During the COVID-19 waves, I started ‘jashn-e-dawat’, which was wedding food, served in one tray, for one person, as people were not able to attend weddings and missed that food,” she says.
She also introduced desserts like Panjiri ke ladoo, gond ke laddoo during winters. She got permission from the government to serve food during the COVID-19 lockdown and served over 500 meals.
Her daily tiffins have a set menu, which she also tries to give something new, like mirchi (Chilli) bajji, pakode, custard and more. They cost Rs 400 for lunch and dinner per day.
“I keep thinking about my customers, especially the older men and women who order. I try to give something different. Since many are diabetics but love sweets, I give them something like a custard which I make with very little sugar for them,” she adds.
One of Anjum’s regular diners is Obaid Khan, who has been ordering his daily meals from her for two years. He says that her food reminds him of home.
“The taste, quantity and quality is really good. What really differentiates Anjum’s food is the quantity, which is much more than what others offer. She keeps the menu interesting as well. Her mutton kofta curry is out of this world,” says Obaid, who works in Hyderabad.
Anjum’s bestseller is the mutton biryani, which sells for Rs 1800/kg and can feed 6-8 people. The reason, she says, is that she uses equal quantities of mutton and rice in her biryani. Other crowd favourites are the double ka meetha and chicken tikka.
Despite her busy schedule, Anjum finds the time to conduct online cooking classes for people living abroad.
Crediting her success to sheer hard work, Anjum says, “If we want to make a name for ourselves, we have to work very hard. It requires a lot of effort. I have been blessed with good orders since the time I started and have a very cooperative family.”
Ultimately, taste and quality matter, and that’s where Anjum stands out, according to customers like Obaid.
Starting with Rs 80, Anjum earns over Rs 1 lakh per month today. For anyone wishing to start a business, dedicating yourself completely to the job is the only way to thrive.
“Keep hustling and put in your 100 percent. Practice makes one perfect. Keep at it till you become the best. Don’t work for money. I experimented with my tiffins and look where I am today. You too can make it if you keep your eyes on the goal and enjoy what you do,” says Anjum.
You can place orders through Anjum’s facebook page.
Edited by Padmashree Pande.
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