Startup offers Indian tiffin service in Canada

Published on Jul 02, 2022 11:42 AM IST
Tiffin Service was launched in May by Pumpkin Kart, offering lunch or dinner plans to subscribers, covering a variety of cuisine including that from Kerala, Punjab or Gujarat, among others
(L-R) Pumpkin Kart director Vijay Thomas, founder and CEO Philip Correya and Arun Rajkumar, operations manager of Desi Mane, a restaurant in Toronto.
(L-R) Pumpkin Kart director Vijay Thomas, founder and CEO Philip Correya and Arun Rajkumar, operations manager of Desi Mane, a restaurant in Toronto.

TORONTO: Along with a record number of immigrants, the humble concept of the dabbawalla has also migrated to Canada, as a Toronto-based startup has launched an app to provide this service.

Simply called Tiffin Service, these meals are part of the larger Pumpkin Kart platform, which is attempting to satiate the appetite of new immigrants for food and groceries offering a taste of home.

Tiffin Service was launched in May by Pumpkin Kart (PK), offering lunch or dinner plans to subscribers, covering a variety of cuisine including that from Kerala, Punjab or Gujarat, among others.

As immigration burgeons, “this is the right time to be in the market”, according to Pumpkin Kart’s CEO Philip Correya. The service, still nascent, is available in the Greater Toronto Area at this time and he pointed out, approximately 60% of the population of Toronto comprises immigrants, and of that figure, almost half could be those with roots in India.

It has tied up with multiple restaurants to use their Health Canada-certified kitchens, which lie unused after midnight. That’s when the home chefs that have partnered with Pumpkin Kart enter these professional kitchens and start preparing the meals to be delivered the next day to consumers.

Correya said the concept will taken to areas beyond the GTA in the near future. In fact, one of the ideas they plan on introducing is allowing families in India to purchase these monthly meal packages for their relatives in Canada, like parents wanting to ensure their children remain well fed while in the country.

The idea for the parent PK, launched in May 2020, came to Correya from his own experience as a student living in downtown Toronto and having an “accessibility problem” to Indian food. Such items were limited to eateries in “certain hubs” in the city with large populations of Indian immigrants.

So, PK was an attempt to fill that gap and may have arrived at a time when such delivery demand grew because of the restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many restaurants only offered take-outs or deliveries which grew the market for app-based services. In addition, more and more immigrants from India, students or young professionals, were coming in already accustomed to a booming delivery culture back home.

But PK also made its presence felt offering advantages not associated with mainstream services like UberEats or DoorDash. As Arun Ramkumar, operations manager for the Toronto-based South Indian restaurant Desi Mane said, PK’s delivery radius is 30km, five times that of the others, giving them an expanded reach and a new clientele.

Also, as PK’s adviser Vijay Thomas said, “We have the advantage of knowing our customer segment very well.” That means offering some rare items, like Mandakini, desi hooch, which is illegal in India, but is legally brewed at a distillery in Vaughan in Ontario. Or, even paan-flavoured chocolate.

Thomas said the vision is to turn PK into a “superapp for ethnic products”, a platform that can offer not just food, alcohol, groceries, but even clothes and ayurvedic cosmetics.


    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • An illustration of the novel coronavirus seen next to a health care worker at a Covid-19 testing centre in New Delhi on October 28. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

    Why mutation of BA.5 lineages is a matter of concern? WHO highlights

    About 99 per cent of the coronavirus sequences reported globally in a month - between July 8 and August 8 - were linked to the Omicron variant, the World Health Organization has said in its latest weekly bulletin, highlighting that “BA.5 descendent lineages” are increasing in diversity. The world health body has said it has been tracking an increase in prevalence and change in vital characteristics of the lineages.

  • Former President of the United States Donald Trump.

    Trump calls for 'immediate' release of Mar-a-Lago search warrant

    Former President Donald Trump called late Thursday for the “immediate” release of the federal warrant the FBI used to search his Florida estate, hours after the Justice Department had asked a court to unseal the warrant, with Attorney General Merrick Garland citing the “substantial public interest in this matter.” The Justice Department request earlier Thursday is striking because such documents traditionally remain sealed during a pending investigation.

  • A file photo of India’s Independence Day celebrations in downtown Toronto, Canada. (Supplied photo)

    India asks Canada to ensure security at Independence Day celebration events

    For the first time ever, the Indian government has called upon Canada to ensure adequate security during Independence Day celebrations at missions in the country but to also prevent the disruption of events organised by the Indo-Canadian community. This was conveyed by India's high commission in Ottawa to Global Affairs Canada, the country's foreign ministry, in a diplomatic communique.

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with neighbours of east Vancouver residents Gardy and Kate Frost about his handling of vaccine mandates and the Ottawa trucker convoy protests as he meets with residents to discuss investments in housing, in Vancouver, British Columbia, on May 24, 2022. (REUTERS)

    Anti-mandate protests: Doubts cast over Canada PM’s move to impose emergency in February

    Doubts have been cast over the necessity for the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to impose a draconian emergency in the country in February to counter the so-called Freedom Convoy then occupying the capital of Ottawa, as documents filed in a court on Thursday appeared to indicate there was information that a “breakthrough” was possible in negotiations between authorities and the anti-vaccine mandate protesters. The Canadian government has countered these revelations.

  • The US CDC has announced new guidelines. 

    Criticism as US regulator CDC loosens Covid guidelines: ‘Blood on hands…’

    Over the last two years, the United States has seen coronavirus wreaking havoc while the world witnessed the worst of the pandemic in one of the world's most developed nations. Amid the spread of virus and its mutation still a matter of concern, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has taken a step forward in loosening the restrictions. Children exposed to Covid don't have to get a negative test.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Friday, August 12, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now