Q&A With Bohra Pantry’s Nayab Bookwala
Indian food can be tough to cook if you don’t have the right ingredients, spices, and masalas. But the recently launched Bohra Pantry aims to make that process easier with its line of tasty masalas and recipes to make delicious dishes like Kaari Masala, Sarki Masala, Biryani Masala, White Gravy Masala, Green Gravy Masala, and many more. You can purchase the masalas on the Bohra Pantry website and they ship across the US!
Nayab Bookwala sent me some samples of the masalas and I had the opportunity to cook the Kaari Masala, which is so delightful. It was my first time making a masala! The Kaari Masala recipe says the will meat take the longest and that is so correct. After that, it was smooth sailing. The Kaari Masala is so flavorful and definitely make sure to add the lemon juice at the end. I did it, not thinking too much of it, but that really added a nice flair to the flavor as well!
Check out our Q&A with Nayab below!
What was your background before starting Bohra Pantry?
I lived in Mumbai until I moved to Houston 2 years ago and being completely passionate about food, I instantly felt at home in this city with a large appetite and an even larger heart. Having graduated in Business Management Studies from the University of Mumbai, I opted for further studies in Broadcast Management in MICA (Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad).
Professionally, I spent the last decade in television and broadcast media in various roles with expertise in Brand, Marketing and Events with some of the leading media conglomerates in India. As a Mumbai girl at heart, Street Food, Bollywood and Shoes are my weaknesses.
What inspired the creation of Bohra Pantry?
It was during my sabbatical from work that I took to cooking and discovered how much I loved it! The idea of Bohra Pantry came to me earlier this year, when I woke up craving ‘Kaari Chawal’ (a mild and flavorful curry from the Bohra cuisine) and wanted to cook it and I didn’t have the right spice mix and the local Indian stores did not carry it either.
Initially, this made me stock up on the masalas when travelling back to India.
It made a wonder, how a community that has placed ‘food’ on a pedestal, not see a need to have these locally available. Even if it is just a spice mix, one should be able to buy it locally and not have to stock up on it! I started to look around to see if I could get these anywhere in USA and when I didn’t, it led to the birth of Bohra Pantry.
What was the process like going from idea to where you are now? What were some of the challenges you faced?
I had no previous experience in the Food Industry and no idea where to start! I spent a lot of time researching and speaking to other business owners to learn more about the process.
With limited capital, I decided to do most the branding, packaging design, web design, etc., myself with lots of help from my husband. The process of selecting the right vendors, from sampling products, looking into how and where the spice mixes are manufactured to inspecting ingredients has been one hell of a learning curve to say the least.
We launched in October with nine products and have got an overwhelming response. It makes me happy that our customers love the product and most importantly I have been able to create awareness about the cuisine and get people to try Bohra food.
The transition from media into the culinary world has been exciting and every day I learn something new about customer behavior, ecommerce, tech or simply batch printing shipping labels!
What are your goals for Bohra Pantry? Where would you like to see the brand go next?
The last few months have been extremely positive for Bohra Pantry and I plan to continue to build the brand until it is recognized as the brand to go to for Bohra food spices.
As of now I am funding Bohra Pantry on my own and I hope to raise money in the future to develop more products, move into the ready-to-cook market and to scale operations to start shipping globally.
What are some of your favorite dishes in Indian cuisine?
It’s impossible for me to choose, but if I have to I can eat Dal Chawal Palidu, Kaari Chawal, Spiced potatoes, Dal and Khichdi every day! Also it would be unfair if I didn’t mention Idlis, Rajma Chawal, Dhoklas, Goan shrimp curry, Butter chicken and Dal Makhani.