The rise of BTech biryani by Hyderabad’s engineer-chefs
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Meet Hyderabad’s BTech graduates who switched careers but still flaunt engineering degrees on the signboards of their culinary ventures

September 30, 2022 04:41 pm | Updated October 08, 2022 08:57 pm IST

Yashwant Alikatti

Yashwant Alikatti | Photo Credit: RAMAKRISHNA G

Watch | Meet the B.Tech chefs of Hyderabad

Sign boards come in different shapes and sizes. In Hyderabad they also have degrees.

A wave of BTech graduates of Hyderabad launching small and medium businesses are drawing attention thanks to their appetite for quirky names. In Ameerpet, Yashwant Alikatti dons a chef’s hat to prepare his signature dish, fried chicken biryani at ‘BTech Biryanis —The Effort of an Engineer.’

BTech Biryanis

A native of Miryalaguda in Nalgonda district, Yashwant would help his mother in the kitchen during festivals to make crunchy chakkilalu, a savoury snack, and the traditional rice flour and jaggery delicacy appalu. He dived into the food business after finishing his engineering from Methodist College in Abids in 2018 and launched a food truck in Kukatpally along with a friend.

A view of B Tech Biryani’s at Ameerpet in Hyderabad

A view of B Tech Biryani’s at Ameerpet in Hyderabad | Photo Credit: RAMAKRISHNA G

The food truck ended up closing down in two months. Yashwant did a BPO job in 2019 for six months, only to return to the food business by managing a friend’s cloud kitchen for a year. In February 2022, he established BTech Biryanis. “My aim was not just to have another eatery,” he explains, pointing to his modest 320-square foot space. “From its name to the food, I wanted to create an identity that would catch people’s attention.”

The idea to include BTech in the eatery’s name was to connect with students who throng Ameerpet to pursue various software courses. “When they realise this is the effort of an engineer, they will support it,” he insists. “I wanted a name that combines two things – my entrepreneurship story and the fact that an engineer is a chef here.”

Yashwant Alikatti

Yashwant Alikatti | Photo Credit: RAMAKRISHNA G

Yashwant spent four months on research, tweaking recipes to create a biryani that stands out. “Hyderabad and biryani are synonymous,” he says, adding “We use bite-sized chicken pieces that can absorb all the spices.” Though he employed a chef for two months, he now does the cooking himself. Business has grown from selling 12 plates of biryani in a day in the first month to 150 plates now.

He admits a catering degree rather than an engineering one would have been more helpful for his new career. “Like many middle-class students, I too had pressure at home to pursue a professional degree. It took time to convince my mother about a change in career,” Yashwant explains, adding “I feel proud when students who listen to my story at the eatery feel inspired to follow their passion.”

 Sanjeev Prasad in the kitchen

 Sanjeev Prasad in the kitchen | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

BTech Chaiwala

Shashikanth Jadhav, Prem Biradar, Sanjeev Prasad and Arjun Saud’s love for garam chai resulted in BTech Chaiwala opening last year. A decade ago the four classmates and friends used to travel by bus across Hyderabad just to drink different varieties of tea. Their love for tea only strengthened while pursuing BTech at Avanti College of Engineering in 2014.

Initially, they set up a small roadside tea kiosk in 2017 but had to shut it down because of road widening work. Determined to make tea professionally, they opened BTech Chaiwala in October 2021. While Shashikanth, Prem and Arjun hold day jobs with Axiom Technologies, HCL Technologies and City Bank respectively, Sanjeev is the chai brewer and maker of sandwiches, vada pav and Maggie.

Shashikanth serves tea to a group of people

Shashikanth serves tea to a group of people | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

The four partners take turns working in the cafe on weekends. A 300-square foot space on busy Chikkadpally main road, it accommodates 16 people. “We are doing well in our careers and are also inspired to start something that combines our education and love for tea,” says Shashikant adding, “The chai and BTech combination is an emotion; students will understand it.” While brainstorming, the friends considered names like Shaukeen (in love with) or Chai Minar (a play on Charminar) but settled on ‘BTech Chaiwala’ as the full name, since it blends their passion and degree.

A B Tech degree has been an asset in the food business, asserts Shashikanth. “It has made us want to be unique and competitive.” He adds that their families were supportive, thankfully. “When budding engineers take selfies with our signboards and post stories tagging us on Instagram, it feels like a dream come true.”

The outlet’s USP is masala teas in 16 flavours including dum, green, lemon and masala chai as well as more unusual options such as curry leaves, pepper and sounth (dry ginger powder). “We don’t use any premix powder to make tea; we grind masalas fresh,” says Sanjeev.

With a franchise now in Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, the friends hope to open tea kiosks in junctions leading to various B Tech colleges in Hyderabad. Prem Kumar says, “This is more like a family than a partnership.”

BTech Babu Spicy House, Bachupally

Srikanth Reddy

Srikanth Reddy | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Chinese food lovers are spoilt for choice with 99 varieties in starters, soups and the main course at BTech Babu Spicy House in Bachupally. Founder Srikanth Reddy, a BTech graduate quit his job in Cognizant within eight months to delve into the food business. “Having a unique name is half the job done in attracting customers,” says Srikanth.  His marketing strategy seems to be working as most customers who walk in are young people  captivated by the name and wanting to know the story behind it.  

While doing a BTech from Kandula Obul Reddy Memorial College of Engineering in Kadapa, Srikanth never imagined himself in the food business. “After working for four years in Regal-Beloit Corporation, I was dreaming of running my own enterprise; I am passionate about food, so I worked to turn my passion into a business,” he recollects.

The engineering degree, Srikanth says, has helped his communication skills. “BTech degree has indirectly helped me in my food business. I am able to easily strike a conversation with customers. The degree also makes me a more confident entrepreneur.”

A view of BTech Babu Spicy House in Bachupally

A view of BTech Babu Spicy House in Bachupally | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

He operates from a 150-square feet container with two Nepali chefs who are experts in Chinese cuisine, serving up popular staples like fried rice, noodles, schezwan rice and Chicken Hong Kong, all priced from ₹60 upwards. September has been a special month for Srikanth as he has given his first franchise to a friend in Sangareddy.

He admits it was tough to convince his family. “My father was so upset, he didn’t speak to me for two weeks when I told him about my decision to quit my job and doing this. But now, he is happy and encouraging.”

BTech Pulao Wala, Kothapet

Sabhavat Ravi

Sabhavat Ravi | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Sabhavat Ravi dropped out of his BTech course, at the KG Reddy College of Engineering and Technology in Moinabad, in his third year in 2014 due to personal issues. A good cook, he realised he enjoyed treating friends to home cooked pulao and biryani. “I used to watch my father and I learnt cooking from him,” he explains. Feedback from friends inspired him to take the plunge and start a fast food joint in Madhapur in 2019, but he faced losses when the lockdowns began.

He made a fresh start in December 2021 by launching BTech Pulao Wala, a roadside setup in Kothapet. Ravi cooks with a chef at a kitchen in Dilsukhnagar and transports the food in an auto. The menu includes chicken fry, chicken and boti curry, chicken biryani and bagara rice, vegetarian biryani and a simple thali, priced at ₹70. “Simple and affordable dishes are my USP,” he says. Open only for lunch, the outlet has grown from serving 20 customers in the initial months to around 300 people now.

Ravi also takes party orders and has catered for four functions which had around 150 people. Like all the rest, he too is satisfied with his path from a BTech to the stove. He states, “This is a small setup but I feel satisfied at the end of the day as this is my own.”

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