Chaikaari in Thiruvananthapuram sells snacks made by home cooks

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Athira J and Arun Kumar BS opened Chaikaari as an avenue for home cooks to be financially independent

Athira J and Arun Kumar BS opened Chaikaari as an avenue for home cooks to be financially independent

Tea and snacks make an unbeatable combination. That is what Chaikaari, a nondescript cafe at Vanchiyoor junction, offers. What makes the snacks special is that they are sourced from home cooks in the city.

Chaikaari is a platform to empower home cooks, says Athira J and Arun Kumar BS, founders of the cafe. The comfort of home-cooked food is behind the idea, they say. “My mother, Jaya S, a homemaker, is an amazing cook. She used to sell breakfast and pothichoru, under the brand name Homy Delights. We had built a steady clientele through just a Facebook page. She had to wind it up after two years. That was when I thought about others like her who can’t afford to start a business on their own,” says Athira, an IT professional.

Athira J and Arun Kumar BS, founders of Chaikaari in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. It sells snacks made by home cooks
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

When she shared the idea with her cousin, Arun, an entrepreneur, he was game for it. They put up a post on Facebook inviting entries from home cooks in the city. “We got 350-odd entries out of which 100 were shortlisted. Since we couldn’t take all of them we went through a screening process and those chosen were requested to bring a sample of their dishes. We chose 15 to 20 of them in the first phase,” says Athira.

A home cook supplies one to three dishes, almost on a daily basis. “I used to prepare snacks for my friends but never thought that I would be able to get an income out of it. Chaikaari has given me that opportunity,” says 50-year-old Jayalekshmi  Nagapadmini, whose makes ilayada (steamed rice crepes with jaggery and coconut filling wrapped in banana leaf), kozhukatta or steamed rice balls with sweet or spicy filling, spicy rice balls, kalathappam (a sweet snack made with rice flour and jaggery) and tapioca uppumavu.

Chatti pathiri at Chaikaari, Thiruvananthapuram

Chatti pathiri at Chaikaari, Thiruvananthapuram
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Ethnic eats

Nuzrath TM enjoys preparing eats, especially those popular in Malabar. The 36-year-old homemaker from Kozhikode, has been living in the city for 13 years now. “When I saw the Facebook post of Chaikaari, I decided to give a try. It feels great that people enjoy what I cook. Recently I got a bulk order through a member of Chaikaari group,” says Nuzrath. She makes chicken samosa, parippuvada (lentil fritters) , pazham nirachathu (ripe banana stuffed with sweet filling), unnakkaya (fritters made with semi-ripe bananas with a sweet filling), bonda and tharipola (semolina cake).

While Lakshmi V brings chicken, meat and egg cutlets from her kitchen, Jasmin A makes murtabak (stuffed pancake), chicken rolls, kozhi ada, chatti pathiri and chicken cake. Momos, fried milk, mini pizzas, steamed yams and unniyappam are also available. “My mother prepares a special spicy vada with green gram lentils that is teamed with tomato chutney and my mother-in-law, Sushama S, makes yummy pazhampori (banana fritters),” Athira adds.

Vada made with green gram and tomato chutney at Chaikaari, Thiruvananthapuram

Vada made with green gram and tomato chutney at Chaikaari, Thiruvananthapuram
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The rates are fixed by the home cooks, Arun says and it is ensured that the rates are reasonable. “We have seen successful business ventures run by home cooks winding up within a few months. We don’t want that to happen to these cooks. We want to give these women a solid platform to help them become financially independent.”

Chaikaari has tea in six different flavours, besides the usual milk tea and coffee. It is open on all days from 8.30 am to 8.30 pm. “We plan to open Chaikaari outlets within every eight kilometres in the city. The dream is to expand it to other districts as well,” Arun says.



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Post expires at 3:24pm on Saturday June 4th, 2022