“I’m the guy who quit Google to sell Samosas,” reads the Facebook bio of Munaf Kapadia. But what it doesn’t tell you that his samosas are a major hit among five star hotels of Mumbai, people from Bollywood, and scores of foodies who want to try out something different.
It was hard for people to understand why would an MBA holder quit a perfect, cushy job with Google and dive into something which was not even a thing. But today, Munaf is one among the 30 under 30 achievers on the Forbes List, has been covered by tonnes of media houses, including BBC, and is the favorite choice of every high-class function in the maximum city.
It started with a fight
Munaf is the Chief Eating Officer at The Bohri Kitchen and has a very interesting story behind how it all began. Some three years back, he had to enter into a fight with his mother to get hold of television remote as his mother spent a lot of time watching saas-bahu serials. He figured that he cannot watch TV unless is mother is busy elsewhere and that’s when he thought putting her culinary skills to good use.
Although there were talks in the house around ways to monetize Nafisa’s exceptional cooking skills but opening a restaurant or a cafe was not something a middle-class family could afford in a city like Mumbai. So, Munaf did the next best thing. He sent out 50 odd mails to his friends inviting them and their friends for a lunch, and charge them for it. He did not think it would work because most of them had free access to his mom’s food but people turned up and their living room became a place for having an intimate dining experience.
The Kapadia’s belong to Dawoodi Bohra community of Shia Muslims and boast a cross cuisine which has a waft all the way from Yemen to Gujarat. The slow-cooking Bohri dishes had not crawled into restaurant menus which made Munaf look this as an opportunity rather than a risky step. The fact that they have the concept of community dining where people sit together around a huge plate and eat from the thaal was something new for people outside of their community.
“In my four-and-a-half-year stint at Google, I never got the kind of recognition that The Bohri Kitchen got me in a short period of time.” – Munaf
The brand ambassador of The Bohri Kitchen would be his mother Nafisa who is an expert is cooking everything from smoked mutton kheema samosas, two day-marinated raan, to dudhi halwa, and khajur dry fruit chutney. A mother being a brand ambassador was the most appealing thing for the guests.
Every weekend, the six-course meal comes along with a verbal tour of the history, culture and traditions of the Bohri community which makes the experience one-of-a-kind. The fact that legendary mom-made food was open to strangers (select strangers, if you pass their screening test) struck a chord with foodies and soon the number of guests began to swell.
While talking to KenFolios, Munaf said, “Honestly, I had doubts while leaving such a thriving career with Google. I did not realize that this idea had a potential but now we have been pushed to open delivery kitchens.” Before opening their homes and kitchen to you, Munaf and team do a quick background check of the guests so that they are comfortable inviting them in.
While all this sounds amazing, vegetarians do not lose heart. It is a misconception that Bohri cuisine is all about non-vegetarian delicacies. Often the Kapadia’s host vegetarians and serve them the choicest of veg dishes. If you are planning to head out for their home in Cuff Parade it would cost your anywhere around Rs 1,500 to 1,700.
“The irony is I was worried that after a point in time this will become burdensome for my aging parents but turns out they are more excited than me to host guests every weekend.” – Munaf
The Bohri Kitchen has now spread out of their home and delivers a range of Bohri food in Mumbai which can be ordered from their website. All the cooks are trained and supervised by Nafisa herself, Munaf’s father buys all the raw material and has a final say on the taste. Taking this plunge has been quite a learning experience of Munaf, too, as he has learned more about his community through questions from the guests.
Munaf has proved that it was a smart decision to start working for himself and did not let capital be an issue. Their honesty towards the guests and authentic Bohri cuisine has established them as a strong brand even in the ever competitive market of Mumbai.
Tag a friend who will be interested to open their own restaurant and share this brilliant idea.