July 15, 2024

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Culinary musings- The New Indian Express

4 min read

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: The rich tapestry of global cuisine often faces dilution in the fast-paced demands of modern life. However, a dynamic mother and daughter duo from Hyderabad, India have embarked on a flavourful journey to the United States with their innovative start-up, Podi Life. Alaknanda and her mother, Vasavi, are on a mission to introduce the authentic and versatile tastes of South India to a global audience.

For many Indians living abroad, the longing for the familiar flavours of home can be a constant companion. Despite their best efforts to recreate traditional dishes, something always seems to be missing. Alaknanda, born in Warangal and raised in Hyderabad, understands this sentiment all too well. Even with her various degrees and work experience across multiple continents and industries, her heart remained tethered to her roots and the rich culinary heritage of South India.

While residing in France, Alaknanda found herself captivated by the French food culture and nurturing her curiosity about all aspects of South Indian cuisine. It was during the pandemic in 2020 that Alaknanda and her mother spent eight months together in their Hyderabad apartment, discussing their shared passion for food and their cultural legacy. The outcome of this discussion is “Podi Life,” which was initially launched as a pandemic project in India and later expanded to the US, where it found resounding support.

Starting a business, especially one inspired by a rich cultural history, is no simple task. Alaknanda and Vasavi had to navigate regulatory, packaging, and labelling issues. Embracing the name “Podi” instead of a generic seasoning required a focus on education and fostering pride in their work. They’re not just selling a product; they’re sharing a piece of South India’s culinary soul.

A unique feature of Podi Life is Alaknanda’s curiosity in documenting her mother’s recipes. They bridge generations through their partnership, showcasing Vasavi’s culinary skills. Vasavi, who primarily focuses on the ingredients used in their products, is deeply concerned with quality.

For Podi Life, it’s not just about selling products; they believe in building a community. Collaborations and events play a crucial role in spreading the word for Podi Life. They encourage customers to use podis in their own creative ways because there’s no one “authentic” way to enjoy them.

Podi Life’s flagship product is a range of fresh, heirloom, small-batch podis (powders) re-imagined for modern gourmands. They are currently working on millets and heritage rices, reflecting Alaknanda’s familial ties to rice cultivation. What makes Podi Life unique is their multi-generational viewpoint on food, a superpower that resonates with their growing Instagram audience.

Looking ahead, Alaknanda and Vasavi aspire for Podi Life to become a household condiment and seasoning across the US, transcending its South Indian origins.

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