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Silicon Valley cries for Indian food

About 10% of Silicon Valley's population is Asian Indian, and the hunger for Indian food in insatiable.
None | By HT Correspondent, San Francisco
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2007 12:59 PM IST

Silicon Valley is seeing a dramatic rise in the number of home-based Indian cooks - to serve the numerous IT professionals from India the cuisine they crave for.

About 10 per cent of Silicon Valley's population is Asian Indian, and the hunger for Indian food in insatiable.

Not surprisingly, e-mail lists of Indian women advertising home cooked regional specialties such as idli, dhokla and paratha circulate among Indian engineers at companies such as Oracle and Cisco.

Similar lists can also be found at the desks of Indians working with Microsoft, according to

New cooks crop up daily, posting their contact numbers and specialties on South Asian web portals or at Indian grocery stores around the Bay Area. The cooks include new arrivals from the sub-continent or wives of taxi drivers who need that extra dollar.

The kitchens are mostly unlicensed as they operate from homes. In California, licensed catering kitchens must meet stringent food safety requirements including one that they be independent and separate from daily use kitchens.

Nonetheless, Indians freely advertise within the South Asian community.

"The rise of Indian cooks came with the influx of Indian software engineers in the 1990s," said Jaya Iyer, a longtime Bay Area resident originally from South India.

Kokila Kanakia, a pioneer in the homemade Indian food business, now runs her own restaurant and has been making and selling Indian food to the community for 18 long years.

"We make 3,000 chapatis a day, and most are sold before they are made," said Kokila's husband Prakash.

"The chapatis are picked up by Indians coming from as far as San Francisco and are shipped to customers in San Diego, Seattle and even Alaska," he said.

Despite an abundance of Indian cooks around Silicon Valley, the demand is still rising.

"The demand for homemade Indian food is clearly unmet," said Padma Subbaraya, a Microsoft consultant.

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