Order ‘Pothichoru’ Online and Tickle Your Taste Buds

Kochi: The inviting smell of boiled rice with your favourite curries blended with the aroma of half-burnt banana leaf (vaattiya ela) will definitely evoke a sense of nostalgia in any Malayali. With the spread of urban culture among the youth, the much-sought-after ‘Pothichoru’ (lunch packed in half-burnt banana leaf) gradually vanished from their food habits as they preferred more ‘modern’ lunch menus of restaurants or office canteens. Nevertheless, artificial flavours added to the food they consumed and unhealthy preparation often caused health problems for the employed youth who stayed away from home. It is in this backdrop of the rising demand for quality home-prepared lunch among employed youth and others that entrepreneur Lajesh Kolath has launched ‘Oru Pothichoru’, an online lunch booking platform which can be used by anybody in Kochi to get a mouthwatering ‘pothichoru’ delivered at one’s doorstep.

 

‘Oru Pothichoru’, an online lunch booking platform, was launched by Lajesh Kolath to deliver tasty ‘pothichoru’ at the clients’ doorstep

 

“Most of the employees usually have light breakfast or skip it altogether and the dinner is always either planned with their family or friends. For them, lunch is always unplanned or unpredictable due to unexpected meetings or conferences. Even if they want to go out and satisfy their appetite, meals would have run out in hotels and they may have to be satisfied with a biriyani or something else,” says Lajesh.

Upon booking online at the website www.orupothichoru.com, the team will deliver authentic Kerala vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals to the customers in a hot bag before 1.30 pm. Sans artificial preservatives and taste-makers, ‘Oru Pothichoru’ was launched by the team as part of promoting a healthy food culture in Kochi.

It was the lack of a good food culture here and the difficulty faced in getting healthy lunch while on official trips that prompted Lajesh, who has a sales background, to launch ‘Oru Pothichoru’. “It was difficult to get food without any adulteration. I wanted to offer a solution to this and this is how I came up with the ‘Oru Pothichoru’ idea, which allows anyone to place order for lunch sitting at one’s office,” says the founder of the startup. Lajesh did his Masters in International Business from the UK and has professional experience in Dubai and Kerala. His plan is to start a restaurant chain, including one serving authentic South Indian food, however, did not materialise.

The team had been working on ‘Oru Pothichoru’ concept since August 2017. The site went online in March this year. They did not receive much orders on the first three days. Soon due to the quality of food and word-of-mouth publicity, more people started ordering lunch through the site and now it gets on an average up to 75 lunch orders per day. “Initially, we had only pre-booking facility wherein one had to order lunch on the previous day before 11 am. But, now people can book on the same day till 11 am. However, booking usually closes by 9 am due to heavy demand and limited inventory,” says Lajesh, a native of Chottanikkara.

“By providing food packed in a banana leaf, it will be easy for people to dispose off the waste. We do not use plastic in our packing. Everything is disposable,” he adds.

The number of vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals available for the day will be displayed on the site. The team of 10 members can afford to take only 80-100 orders per day at present. The food is cooked at a kitchen in Chottanikkara and the menu varies according to the availability of vegetables and meat. If ‘erisseri’ is served a day, it may be ‘kaalan’ the next day. The banana leaves are purchased from vendors locally.

Lajesh is also very happy about the positive response the initiative has received. “We expected only 10-20 orders daily, but now we receive more than 70 orders. The orders come mainly from employees of Infopark,” he adds. Currently, ‘Oru Pothichoru’ is delivering lunch in areas like Kakkanad, Palarivattom, Edapally, Kaloor, Panampilly Nagar and Vytilla. Though the venture was started targeting the working population, there is a demand from apartments and houses as well.

Like any other startup, ‘Oru Pothichoru’ also has its share of challenges, mainly in the logistics area. Traffic in the city and unexpected breakdowns prevent them from delivering the pack on time. “However, we have not received any complaints on the quality of food, till date,” says Lajesh.

A vegetarian meal is charged at Rs. 59 while it is Rs. 99 for a non-vegetarian meal. ‘Oru Pothichoru’ is planning to widen its menu by including other varieties like biriyani, tomato rice and chicken rice and expand its operation to other cities like Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.

They also plan to advance the time for ordering from 11 am to 1 -1.30 pm. An ‘orupothichooru’ app will also be launched soon which will make it more convenient for people to order the food using their smart phone. Providing lunch packs through select juice shops is also on the cards.

At present, there are no delivery charges and ‘cash on delivery’ mode. The payment should be made online while ordering the lunch pack.

For more details, log on to www.orupothichoru.com