Bonn · Three young Bonn residents created a start-up to bring the secrets of Indian cuisine to Bonn. Their focus is on special blends of spices to create authentic Indian dishes. Cooking parties also play a role.
Amar Singh had the idea for Flavors of India back in 2015. But until now, there simply wasn't enough time to implement it, explains the 34-year-old project manager. "Then corona came along, and we thought: it's now or never." Together with Jennifer Hönig (30) and Helena Paez-Maletz (24), Singh founded an online shop for Indian spice blends. "With our products, you can either cook at home as a couple or do it together with others as a Zoom cooking party," says the Bonn resident, explaining the concept.
The corresponding recipes are written on the packages. The spice blends themselves are packaged by a producer in northern India, right in the Himalayan mountains. "The recipes for our flavors come directly from the producer himself, who has been selling the spices on the Indian market for years," says Hönig. However, they had to take out a lot of spiciness and salt from the original recipes in order to adapt the taste to European palates. “Other than that, though, it's exactly the same as you'd eat in India." That's what makes the blends so authentic, adds the project manager.
Now the aim is to give Bonn a taste for the exotic: "Some supermarkets have already included our spice blends in their assortment," reports Singh. "With the joy and variety of Indian cuisine, we want to bring people together and provide a little change-up from everyday life, also in the times to come," says Hönig. To make that happen, the start-up hosts Indian Zoom cooking parties where participants can join in. One 89-year-old was able to celebrate his birthday in this way. "That was just nice to experience, the family was connected from all over Germany, and everyone received a package from us in the mail beforehand," Singh says.
To keep the preparation of the food as uncomplicated as possible, the entrepreneurs have limited their dishes "to one package, three cooking steps and approx. 20 minutes of preparation time”. When selecting recipes and spices, they listen closely to customer feedback, Paez-Maletz says. "What consumers are familiar with, want to try and think is very good, we bring to the market." They started with three dishes, are now selling five, and are working on more vegetarian versions as well as a BBQ edition for the summer.
The local connection is also important, he says, because an online store created in Bonn takes away the fear of the unfamiliar for many Rhinelanders. "Especially customers who have never tried Indian food before or don't like spicy food so much, they can trust that the curries are adapted to German tastes.”
For product development, the entrepreneurs primarily use social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. "Social media is incredibly important for us. Both to build up reach and to keep in touch with customers," Paez-Maletz emphasizes. The startup has focused on sustainability, Singh explains. "With compostable packaging and complete elimination of plastic." The concept has been well received by customers, Hönig says. "The feedback has been phenomenal." In the beginning, the products went mainly to acquaintances. In the meantime, they no longer know personally all the customers who purchase their spice kits.
More information can be found at www.flavorsofindia.de. The website is in German and English.
(Orig. text: Niklas Schröder / Translation: ck)