Nostalgia for her own mother's home-cooked meals has led British Indian professional Shelina Dhuna to set up her own food business in London. Indian Home Cooks offers an innovative home-delivery-cum-catering service that provides authentic home-cooked Indian food at doorsteps anywhere in London.
"As anyone who is away from home and misses their mum's home-cooked food, I felt there was a major gap in the market for authentic traditional Indian cooking that can be accessed at a reasonable price and at your convenience," says company director Dhuna, who was working as a media professional with Sky TV before taking the plunge into the entrepreneurial world recently.
"The market in Britain is under-served when it comes to fresh, healthy, authentic take-out Indian food. People are time poor and want food at their own convenience, but are conscious about eating healthy freshly cooked food at accessible prices.
Indian Home Cooks launched in February 2013 and fills this gap by delivering freshly home-cooked dishes made to traditional, authentic, delicious Indian recipes and cooked to a high standard by experienced chefs at takeaway prices," she adds.
Alongside home deliveries, Indian Home Cooks' chefs provide catering for dinner parties, special occasions and corporate events. The concept revolves around a portal for chefs to advertise their home delivery and/or catering services.
Customers can view these carefully selected chefs' profiles and menus online and then order from them directly through the Indian Home Cooks website. They range from professionals to housewives working part time and offer a variety of cuisines from different regions of India.
While the chefs gain access to a broader London-wide customer platform, Indian Home Cooks get a 20 per cent commission on each order.
"The key USP (unique selling proposition) of the service is fresh, home-cooked food using locally-sourced ingredients, minimal oil/salt and no artificial flavours or colours.
Dishes, very affordably priced, are cooked by experienced chefs to a high standard and in accordance with specific dietary requirements," Dhuna explains.
After an initial London base, she plans to expand Indian Home Cooks to other regions across the UK.
"Indian cuisine remains one of the most popular cuisines in the UK. I think this is because over the years many Indian dishes have been adapted to British taste-buds. However, I think we are starting to see a shift where people are realising just how delicious traditional home-cooked Indian cuisine is and once they are introduced to it, they love it."
As a professional who has been working across various sectors, including medical, information technology and recruitment, Dhuna's Punjabi roots have always drawn her towards traditional Indian cuisine.