We’re always on the lookout for companies that combat plastic waste in unique ways. Zero Grocer offers plastic-free grocery shopping. Dishcraft is working on reusable takeout containers. Planeteer makes cutlery you can eat.
Over in India, a food delivery startup called Potful is showing its love for mother earth with actual earthenware. Potful cooks and delivers Biryanis in handmade clay pots. Order a meal, keep the pot, and Poftul even includes coriander seeds with orders so the pots can be turned into planters. The Biryanis are cooked to order and cost between 560 – 660 Rupees (~ $7.59 – $9.00 USD).
The company started a few years back in Bangalore and recently launched in the Hyderabad area of India. This approach to sustainable food delivery was intriguing, so I reached out to Lokesh Krishnan, Founder and CEO of Potful. Our emailed Q&A is below and has been slightly edited for clarity.
The Spoon: Can you please explain what a biryani is?
Lokesh Krishnan: Biryani is a mixed rice dish with its origins among the Indian subcontinent. It is made with Indian spices, rice, and meat, or vegetables and sometimes, in addition, eggs and/or potatoes in certain regional varieties. Biryani is popular throughout the Indian subcontinent, as well as among its diaspora. It’s a Persian dish and Mughals brought the recipe to India centuries ago.
The beauty of the dish is it’s a meal in itself, very balanced (has carbs, proteins and fat) and affordable. Everyone in South Asia loves it irrespective of age, income groups.
You are cooking and delivering biryanis in the same clay pot. How does this impact your ability to grow?
Cooking biryani in claypot method is the most traditional and authentic way of cooking biryanis. The process is know as ‘Dum Cooking” and when you do, the flavours are intact and every grain of rice would taste different compared to any other form of cooking. We have built a time and weight based process using technology and have de-skilled the entire cooking process to scale rapidly. so scaling / growing is not an issue at all.
How often would a typical person order a biryani? I’m just wondering about clay pots stacking up around the home.
There are markets where people order every single day but most will order at 3-4 times a month. People are very familiar with the dish and hence when they are not sure of something, the first thing which comes on their mind is biryani. Its the No. 1 online ordered dish in India today on any online food aggregator platforms.
When did you launch, and are there any numbers you can share, such as order growth?
We launched our operation in Aug 2017 in Bangalore, the silicon valley of India. We operate under cloud / dark kitchen model and have 15 kitchens in the city as of now. We have just launched the product in Hyderabad (south of India) which is the mecca for Biryanis in India and our vision is to build world’s largest biryani company and put this dish on global platform.
Can you expand this model to other foods?
Yes you can. But we would like to stay focused on biryanis for now.
Anything else you think I should know?
While we make authentic biryanis through this process, it’s also important to see how we are doing this business. It’s about sustainability. We don’t use plastics. It’s about responsibility. The claypots are made in hand by artisans and hence as we grow it supports the livelihood of these people. We also send seeds with every biryani and encourage the consumers to reuse the pots and grow vegetables at home or even paint it and use it to decorate your home and garden. In addition, the food cooked in earthen pot is much more healthier than any other form of cooking because of the heat exchange.