As the world is opening up to new ideas, themes and concepts on travel, living and cuisine, it would seem rather passé if we didn’t hitch a ride to see what the excitement is all about.
With gourmet restaurants and shopping outlets in the neighborhood, it has made global cuisine accessible to most of us. For the health conscious now we can even get our dose of organic food, fruits and tea delivered at our doorstep.
Here’s one such lady, a 29-year-old Megha Deokule an Architect by profession who during her sabbatical reconnected with her love for food and blogging and there has been no looking back ever since.
We caught up with Megha on what inspires her that led her to create her brand ‘i2cook’ which has introduced us to a whole new world of fine taste.
How did it all begin?
“I’ve always been interested in food. I have been dreaming about putting ingredients and dishes together ever since I can remember. A turning point comes in everybody’s life where they feel that their purpose of life seems to be behind a different door. I was on a break from Architecture and helping my husband in his business when this happened,” recalls Megha.
During that period she started blogging, which was called “live to eat” and was enjoying her cooking spree in an all new way. Her interaction with other bloggers all around the world gave her an exposure to different kinds of cuisine.
On asking what her initial investments were, pat comes the reply, “The initial investment was self-motivation since there was no money, no education and no people to back me up.”
This just goes to prove that an idea no matter how big or small can be made into something really big if you’re a self-driven and a motivated person who is determined to follow your dreams.
During her blogging phase, Megha heard about the Farmers’ Market run by Kavita Mukhi and decided to take part.
“My husband and I religiously used to have a stall at the market every Sunday for two months in 2011. That’s when I began to learn more about organic food. I started at a very basic level by creating salad dressings. The salad which was just a mixture of organic veggies available in the market and my concoction became an instant hit,” smiles Megha.
This salad dressing was a heavenly blend of sesame oil, red wine vinegar, cinnamon and honey and goes extremely well with fruits.
She realized that the name ‘live to eat’ (from her previous blog) is no different and if people have to remember her, Megha planned to come up with something easy to pronounce and remember.
“I was under pressure one night to come up with a name, and realized that since I love to cook the name stayed in my head – “i2cook”, which was first decided for my blog. But then I realized that people would catch on to the name very quick and even remember it!” recalls Megha.
Megha believes in the goodness of her products and that people relate to it with the same belief; and eventually those who have not yet tasted her products will relate to ‘i2cook’ as a brand that must be experienced.
What makes ‘i2cook’ unique?
i2cook sources its ingredients from producers who have an organic process in place but not necessarily a certification, like organic farmers or organic packaged food distributors.
“We go directly to the manufacturer and do not deal with shops or wholesalers for our raw materials. Some organic farmers or packaged food brands may not have paid or got an organic certification but are 100% organic – for example Navdanya has follows an organic process but no certification,” explains Megha.
“We create our products from these organic ingredients to enhance health with the freshness of taste. Our 12cook products are usually unique and produced with health of the customers in mind, adds Megha.
Megha has created Indian versions of Western products like peanut butter or a new form of mustard (Pink Mustard) or non-baked organic Granola bars. Currently there are no Indian and organic versions of these products that she makes and this is what makes her products stand out from other similar brands in taste and quality.
Products at i2cook
We couldn’t help but ask Megha about those cute little bottles from i2cook that makes you want to pick up one of those divine concoctions to take back home.
She tell us, “The cute little bottles are a discovery and not an invention. I was walking through the glass bazaar and found a cute little bottle broken and thrown in the corner of the street. I picked it up and took it to a particular glass manufacturer and asked him to recreate it for me. So he said he could hand make them. They would be imperfect and lack symmetry, I said okay and now people love it!”
You must check out the i2cook pink mustard that offers a unique zing to the mustard without any acidic aftermath that comes in this ‘oh so cute’ tiny bottle. The pink mustard is a result of having an acidic breakdown in the middle of the day after tasting a burger in a café. Since it is low on bitterness, sourness and acid, unlike commercial or regular mustard, you can eat a lot of pink mustard with zero side effects; as all the ingredients are organic.
Natural peanut butter has no magic concoction but it’s made of 100% organic peanuts . The simplicity of this product is unique, as large scale producers have moved away from it. It’s unique because it consists of 100% “peanuts” and large scale producers don’t find it feasible to go organic due to their scale of operation and also because they create highly processed versions of peanut butter.
She adds, “i2cook also makes the only granola bar in the world (that I know of) that is created without baking the ingredients. But you will have to taste it to let me know if there is any one part of it that can be called a USP!”
“The granola bars are an evolution. They were first created for the farmer’s market for kids and then became a health option for travelers. I have endeavoured to maintain the freshness of the ingredients by not over processing them while maintaining a sticky bar that can substitute a meal for a traveler,” explains Megha.
Why Mediterranean cuisine?
According to Megha, Indian cooking requires time and can sometimes become tedious, while Mediterranean cuisine concentrates more on tasting ingredients individually rather than mixing them. Indians are now acquainting themselves with ingredient taste to decipher the difference between a pav and bread.
“There are a great number of dishes that I had never been exposed to but tasted superior for want of variety. However, I found that almost all the ingredients including processed food had been imported and there were no Indian substitutes. Therefore, I decided that i2cook would show that India could create and better these products from the West. And i2cook peanut butter stands testimony to several veteran peanut butter fans from the west who swear by it,” smiles Megha.
Promoting and marketing i2cook
i2cook products are currently available across several stores and cafés such as Farm Products in Colaba, Bake Haven Health Shop in Malabar Hill, Suryodaya Supermarket at Churchgate, Eco Corner at Lower Parel, Jiyo Organic at Powai.
Megha has recently begun promoting the products online trough Google adwords as well. You can follow this link for the campaign here http://www.digicat.in/Campaigns/i2cookpinkmustard.html
The journey so far…
Before signing off Megha shares that the journey has been a continuous learning process. While the positive client feedback has helped her improvise on her products, the negative feedback brings her back to the stove where she reworks on the taste.
“As I supply my products through stores and cafes there is almost no interaction with regular customers. However, one of the cafés – Yoga House did let me know that Ajay Devgan loved our peanut butter,” beams Megha.
Pick up an i2cook goody
If you’d like to know more about i2cook and all the natural goodies on offer, check out Megha’s Facebook page and blog:
Blog – http://i2cook.wordpress.com/about/
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