Samosa is back in business with the air fryer

15th Mar, 2018

| by Nanditha Vasudev , nanditha_vasudev

They say happiness is home-made.

For Kalpana Ramesh Patel business is home-made.
The plumpish woman in her mid-fifties has been in the business of making home-made, ready-to-fry snacks since 2000. Eighteen years into the trade – of going from home to home, using their ingredients and her way of samosas and spring rolls and charging just her making fee is her home-spun business model that’s simple, working and how!

A lot of her business springs from people’s need for sumptuous food, made in a hygienic manner, under their watchful eye in their home environment. Kalpana got introduced to this zero-investment business model in 2000 when she was called to help her sister-in-law, Kaanta Patel in her catering business.
The first dish that Kalpana churned out was a samosa – and in her mind, a business was born!

Thin and crisp outside, filled with soft, mildly-flavored mashed potatoes and peas, the USP of Kalpana’s samosa lies in her clean masala filling. You can tuck as many as you like guilt-free as they are not fried and re-fried in thick, blackish oil that’s used to the last drop in some corner of a soot-covered seedy bylane.
Kalpana orders everything afresh, a day in advance of her visit, so she won’t have to while away her time waiting. A stickler for time, she’ll call twice before coming, in order to make sure that all her ingredients have been pre-ordered in exact quantity – after all, making samosas is no mean business!

The dough is kneaded carefully and with every ounce of strength that Kalpana has in her firm, veteran hands, so that it can be rolled out thin as wafers and filled with the finely mashed potatoes-pea filling that has no chance of oozing out in the piping hot, frying oil. It’s the fine skin of her samosas that makes them golden crisp.

Ripping open the oil from a new pack, she half-fries them for longer shelf life (refrigerated) and lets her delectable wares – samosas, cheese rolls, spring rolls, and corn and cheese patties — cool before she neatly lining them in zip folders to be stacked away in your deep freezer. Her snacks can be stored for up to a month and must be thawed, and fried for the final serving.
Kalpana learned the ropes of the trade from her sister-in-law, and after five years as her apprentice decided to set-up her own practice. Anjali Mathur, a bank executive found Kalpana’s number (9224226041) friend a friend and thought that instead of ordering food from outside for her wedding anniversary, wouldn’t it be a good idea to give Kalpana a try?
She did, and now Kalpana is a regular to her house before all get-togethers.
Besides her all-season favorite samosas, Kalpana also makes yummy bori samosa, wontons, spring rolls, quesadilla, and chana dal patti. Specializing in both veg and non-veg fare, she charges Rs.350/- per kg and Rs.100 extra as commuting charges.

Kalpana shares that tenement, a one-room chawl in Dawri Nagar, Gate No 1, Santacruz (W), Mumbai, with her 25-year-old driver-son, and two granddaughters. During peak season, i.e. around festivals (Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali etc.) Kalpana is happy making as much as Rs 25,000-30,000 a month, but there are lean times when she has to manage with as little as Rs.7,000-8,000 a month.

“People have become very health conscious. They avoid fried-foods. But with the air fryer, I am back in business,” she chuckles.
Her husband, who dabbled in the lottery business died six years ago, and since then, Kalpana keeps her kitchen fires burning with this model. On certain days, her job can be tedious and back-breaking. But this doesn’t make her bitter or angry. She carries a small radio set with us and switches it on, the moment she has changed into her work clothes – a clean nightie. The radio plays old Bollywood numbers, as she rolls out her dough, squatting on the kitchen floor.

Asked if she loves her work, she is nonchalant. “There are needs… milk, vegetables, medicines, rent…I have to continue for as long as I can.”

Nanditha Vasudev

Nanditha Vasudev

Copy Editor

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