Srinagar: That Kashmiri urge to say, “Aanchaar Khend Getch Aasin (I am craving for a small piece of pickle) over meals on a cold winter day.
Well, you don’t have to wait endlessly for a home-like pickle now. Panun brand of pickles is ensuring a spicy success with its “just like home flavors and quality” in Kashmir.”
For 38-year-old Sabira Mattoo, the brainchild behind `Panun Foods and Spices’, pickles are not just another condiment. “They surprisingly blend in with our emotions and are the real mood makers,” said Mattoo, who chose entrepreneurship after doing Masters in Computer Science.
Hailing from the Tengpora area of Srinagar, Mattoo credits her pickle-making skills to her mother-in-law. “She gave me the secret to best recipes for Koshur style pickles,” she said.
Since 2018, she has been dishing out a delectable line-up of pickle varieties- Mixed Vegetables, Garlic, Chillies, Aloo Bukhara (Plum Pickle) under the brand Panun Foods and Spices. They are priced in the range of 150-390 rupees per bottle.
Over the last three years, her product has carved a niche for itself and is presently sold in around 100 departmental stores across the valley. Hotels like Raddison, The Heritage, Palm View, and several others also buy pickles from the same brand.
“It didn’t start off as a business venture initially,” informed Mattoo. With treasured recipes in hand, Mattoo began pickling as a hobby. “It was in 2018 when I casually posted a picture in a Facebook group called Yakhjut. I received various inquiries about it and delivered a few bottles. The product was well accepted and soon orders started pouring in,” she said.
When the volume increased, her husband, asked her to approach the business in a more professional way. “My husband has been a great support. With his help and encouragement, I created a separate space within our house for the pickle making and got rolling with bulk orders,” she said.
Women at the forefront
Mattoo is assisted by eight females in her venture. “I always wanted to employ women who are keen on making a livelihood and thankfully this space provides them the opportunity.”
She said Panun Food and Spices ensures the female staff maintains all the hygiene standards and food safety measures. “For more strenuous work, we have two male members helping us,” she said.
The success mantra
In the last three years that she has been making pickles, Mattoo said it’s the consistent quality of the product that has been the key to success. “It’s very easy to cut corners but it takes a lot to offer the best to the customer. We ensure not to compromise on the quality,” she said, adding how they keep a check on customer feedback personally.
“Our biggest compliment is when customers write in to say that they love every bit of our pickles and want more of it,” she said.