For podis, pickles and people in a hurry

BOTTLED LOVE: Vinupriya Home Foods. Photo: K. Ananthan   | Photo Credit: K_Ananthan

Whenever engineer Raguraman left for a foreign assignment, his mother would pack an assortment of podis and pickles to make his life easier. After Raguraman retired and wanted to start an enterprise, he could only think of the delicious powders his mother made.

So, he along with his wife Bharathi started Vinupriya Home Foods in September 1992 out of a small basement space in R.S. Puram. In the beginning, there was an array of glass jars with paruppu podi, bajji mix, rava upma mix and rasam and sambar mix, all free of preservatives. The snacks range included ribbon pakoda, thatta murkku, khakra, fried aval. The shelves were piled high with vadaams and vathals ready to be fried. The left side of the store held melt-in-the-mouth urundais. Gradually, they added to their range. Today, there's ready-mix sambar and rasam (which just need a healthy dose of hot water to turn into fiery concoctions that smell of home), chilli gobi mix, thooduvaalai rice mix…

Dabba delight

Lavanya Karthikeyan walks in with a big shopping list. She points out the various glass dabbas at Vinupriya, and soon, there's an assortment of podis on the table, packed and ready. And yes, her favourite onion pickle. She's been frequenting the store since her marriage 10 years ago, packing podis for use in her Chennai home. Now, she's moving to the U.S. and has come to stock up on podis and pickle. Soon after she leaves, more women — Lalitha Rao, Ranjitha Rao, Nalini Nayak and Savitha Kamath — walk in to make their regular purchases. Lalitha has been coming to the store from the time she used to live in Madukkarai, the other end of town.

Making life easy

For nearly 20 years now, this non-descript store in R.S. Puram has been making life easier for working couples, the elderly and NRIs with their range of ready-to-cook mixes, ready mix rasam and sambar, vadaams and more. “Nothing has changed at the store. Not the quality, not the jars, not the décor…” says Madhupriya, Raguraman's Chennai-based daughter. And they've maintained their clientele despite staying small. “We never stock more than two kg of anything. That way, everything stays fresh,” she says. That's something A. Jayaram, general manager, Volkswagen Ramani, vouches for. He's been a loyal customer for more than six years now. “I love all their products, primarily because they taste like you've made them at home. From the juices to the pickles, they are all good.” Jayaram loves cooking at home and says he especially relishes their puliyodharai podi, aavakkai urugai and milagurasam.

Traditional fare

The store's shelves hold a lot of traditional fare. Raguraman says that was their original plan and they've stuck to it. So you have ellurundai, kasakasa halwa, paasiparuppu and pottukadalai urundai, palgova, keerai podi, vellarividhai halwa and the delicious godhumai urundai. Bringing back memories of school and thalluvandi kadais are the vlambazha vadai and nellikaai vadai, neatly sealed in packets.

Some of the goodies are made at home while others are sourced from women who make them from the comfort of their homes. “They follow our recipes and we stringently monitor the quality,” says Madhupriya. Some of the stuff is brought in from nearby cities such as Salem and Tiruchi. Over the years, the Raguramans have had many people call back with great feedback about their products. But, the best comment, they say, was when someone called their store a “social service”.

Visit them at 106-1, Big Bell Complex, D.B. Road, R.S. Puram or call them on 0422-2556206.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 8:44:18 AM |

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