EP works with and supports numerous entrepreneurs across the sector. At the most recent count – nearly 130. They are the innovators of the sector and their new ideas can add value across the whole hospitality industry.
We are delighted to introduce Mridula Baljekar, founder of
Mridula’s Kitchen and award winning author.
EP asks Mridula about her journey…
How did your company begin? What was your inspiration behind creating it?
“Mridula’s Kitchen was born out of passion and memory. My insatiable appetite for a constant search of new ingredients and ideas fueled by my desire to keep my mother’s memory alive created a dream project in my mind. As a 10 year old I watched my mother make fabulous chutneys with fruit and vegetables from our own orchard which I was allowed to hand-pick.”
“This was very exciting and enjoyable for me and it seemed like some kind of magic when my mother turned them into chutneys with phenomenal taste sensations. I have lovingly re-created my mother’s recipes and the result was chutneys that matched very closely to the flavours of my mother’s. I then decided to create some further recipes suitable for commercial production and this led to formation of my second company, MK Street Food.”
What were you doing before this?
Until I delved into the above ventures, I was teaching Indian cookery, writing books and contributing to magazine/newspaper articles, consulting for upmarket Indian restaurnts, hosting TV and radio shows. I have written 27 cookbooks so far and have won three international awards. My 28th book will be published this year and the subject of this book is medicinal properties of spices combined with superfoods. I have also filmed a series for YouTube a few weeks ago on this same topic and the shows are now being edited. Once finalised they will be uploaded on YouTube. A very exciting project and another dream of sharing my knowledge with the public. There is a sheer sense of pleasure in sharing.
What problem do you solve in the sector?
Indian food is generally perceived to be very spicy and heavy which can create huge problems. I solve this by implementing my mother’s advice on being light-handed with spices in order to enhance and not musk the flavours of the main ingredients. This has remained my philosophy in creating Indian dishes for my pupils, for the books, TV/radio and in training chefs. My recipes have been much appreciated so far.
What stage are you at now?
We have launched the chutneys locally (in Windsor) and received great feedback. We are now looking to reach more people and will approach food markets, garden centres and National Trust shops. We have test marketed MK Street food and had very positive response.
What have you enjoyed the most so far?
I have enjoyed developing the recipes the most. A close second is the appriciation of my food by people who tasted the products. A very important factor in all this is being able to work with a fantastic team who always supported and encouraged me. Now I am enjoying the great feeling of being able to realise another cherished dream.
Biggest challenge you have faced?
Retail is challenging, but fortunatley, drive from consumers for fresh, artisan products will enable me to reach a wider and more sustainable market. For this reason I believe tihis is a great time to launch.I believe I have already overcome the challenging retail market by staying artisan and growing organically.
Plans for the future?
My plan for the future is to increase product range by adding premium quality cooking sauces, marinades, dry spice rubs and spice mixes.
Why is now the right time for your business?
The market is now ready for speciality products and I am being driven by consumers, not retailers. Consumers’ taste buds have changed in recent years and they now want pure and fresh products which are created in a more ethical environment with quality ingredients. They are prepared to pay for such products.