Buy a fusion pickle from this Kerala startup and pay in crypto

Fancy some fish-mango or beetroot-chicken pickles? Kochi-based food startup Athey Nallatha offers a range of fusion pickles, accepting payment in cryptocurrency. What does this mean for the convergence of the food industry and crypto in India?

Updated - October 01, 2021 06:31 pm IST

Published - October 01, 2021 02:42 pm IST

TheAthey Nallatha team

TheAthey Nallatha team

When Kochi-based pickle startup Athey Nallatha (AN) decided to go ahead with cryptocurrency-based transactions, it was probably Kerala’s first such.

“It is high time the Kerala crowd started purchasing via cryptocurrency. Lack of knowledge is keeping people away from it. We want to pioneer this culture on basic purchases to modify the meaning of money. Blockchain technology, when implemented right, can create an upward curve for any business,” says Hafez Rahman who co-founded the company with friend and college-mate Akshay Raveendran.

(Sign up to our Technology newsletter, Today’s Cache, for insights on emerging themes at the intersection of technology, business and policy. Click here to subscribe for free .)

So far, six other companies in India have started cryptocurrency-based transactions; they have had 30-plus such transactions, he adds. The payment gateway is CoinBase, and the currencies accepted are Ethereum, Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, DAI and USDC. Almost all the transactions were by Malayalis, especially from North Kerala.

Hafez tells MetroPlus , “You will be surprised by the number of people using cryptocurrency. I believe ours is one of the highest figures for cryptocurrency-based transactions by Indian businesses that accept crypto-based transactions!”

A combative space

Becoming more commonplace globally, cryptocurrency transactions are finally playing catch-up in India. This is a bold move for AN, which intends to see it through despite its relative unfamiliarity and fewer transactions. Some others who ventured into cryptocurrency in the early days have stopped those transactions. For example, Bengaluru’s Suryawanshi Restaurants started accepting cryptocurrency in 2017 but discontinued within a couple of months.

“Firstly there were hardly any transactions; secondly we noticed that payment confirmation takes time. Another hitch was where or how we could show the GST (goods and service tax). There were problems, it was not the right move for us at the time,” says Tejas Suryawanshi, one of the restaurant’s partners.

AN however has worked out the details, “We tell the customer that the payment is inclusive of 10% GST. Transaction time varies for each coin — we get mail when one is completed. So far we have not had any glitches. Payment comes through in 10 to 15 minutes, we have had 30-odd such transactions and it has not been a big issue,” Hafez says.

To the future

The plan, in the long term, is “crypto-based gateway integration in the website, implementation of smart warehouses via IoT (Internet of Things) leading to smart procurement, asset management and other factors, finally complete company adaptation to the blockchain,” he adds. Athey Nallatha (which means ‘yes, it is good’ in Malayalam) is a pandemic business, started in July 2020, by the Kochi-based management professionals.

Read More | How ‘NFT Malayali’ is helping Kerala’s artists break into the metaverse

Pickles are an unusual choice for a start-up. Hafez’s mother Aneesa Ashraf suggested that they do something that would help people gain employment as many were losing jobs due to the pandemic. “That set us thinking about jobs for middle-aged women, mothers especially by generating employment for them. Pickle-making is something many women would know how to do. Since we started AN as a social venture, it made sense,” he says.

Having started with four women, including Aneesa, today they work with 70 women across Kochi and its suburbs. Rather than traditional pickles, they have manufacture fusion pickles in combinations such as papaya-prawn, beetroot-chicken, sour mango-fish, to mention a few. A factor that led them to pick fusion pickles is they wanted to give them (pickles) a healthy twist. They worked closely with Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), Kochi to design healthy recipes, papaya-prawn is one such example. Their customer base is a mix, a love of pickle being the common thread. They retail in stores in Kochi and are available online.

Intent on empowering women in this category, they have also launched the Nallatha Project through which they up-skill those working with them. “There are two categories — semi-skilled and unskilled. For instance, the semi-skilled can be trained in sales which would perhaps offer new opportunities, and the unskilled can be taught manufacturing and production. We will train them.”

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.