Food is a driving need of humanity, so how cool would it be to have some driven to your doorstep? That’s exactly the consumer experience that Ola intends to literally deliver, with its great Khichdi Experiment, which has the riding app delivering one of the country’s favourite foods to Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune, with plans to widen its network soon. Also, how about a khichdi bar? Pranay Jivrajka, CEO, Ola's food business, has the scoop on what the company is cooking up in its cloud kitchens:
What was the genesis of the experiment? And what was the criteria for selecting the participating cities?
For Khichdi Experiment (KE) specifically, we wanted to give a twist to India’s original comfort food to create a differentiator from the clutter in the market. Our aim was to offer one brand that gives various flavours to khichdi. Khichdi Experiment is available on multiple food delivery platforms. We have also launched our first offline store in Bengaluru and are experimenting with different retail models, including a corporate kiosk, presence in malls, and food trucks, to ensure we reach a wider base of consumers. We opted to launch our brand starting with targeted cities owing to their diverse demographics and capitalize on their candour to experimenting with new dishes.
How long did it take to plan this project?
We spent a great amount of time understanding the Indian palate while playing around with popular and evolving taste preferences. Our teams spent months carefully curating the best varieties of khichdi, keeping its original integrity in mind while adding our spin to the flavour. While we currently offer 18 variants of khichdi, we are working towards launching more variants soon. From the classic Plain Dal Khichdi to the Palak Paneer and even Bengali Panch Phoran Khichdi and Mumbai Pav Bhaji Khichdi, each flavour is a play on a classic dish from states across the country, with an added twist.
Was there a short-list of dishes before khichdi was finally chosen as the pilot?
Khichdi is one of the most versatile dishes with a variation in almost every state and was always our first choice. As a truly Indian brand, what better dish to start of our food journey with than India’s national dish? For decades now, this simple yet nourishing dish has been an integral part of everyday life and we have given it a new spin.
What do you hope the Khichdi Experiment will lead to?
With the success of Khichdi Experiment and the positive reviews that we have received from our customers, we are confident that khichdi will be the next wholesome meal that has the potential to be as popular as the biriyani. We believe that there is a great demand for food that can be ordered daily and are also healthier options which do not compromise on the flavours. The success of Khichdi Experiment also plays a pivotal role in establishing Ola Foods as a leading player in the industry and we aim to continue building on our own food brands including KE as well as a range of brands across categories such as rice bowls, biryani and more.
Will you then be expanding the footprint as well as the menu of this experience?
Over the next few months, we will be working towards expanding our network of state-of-the-art kitchens and adding more varieties such as non-vegetarian variants that we are currently piloting in select regions. With the success of KE and great feedback that we have received from the customers, we also plan to expand our offerings by introducing a range of healthy multi-grain khichdi and khichdi thalis that will add on to the versatility of the brand. The way forward is to create enriching, wholesome food experiences across multiple categories and become an exemplary Indian food brand.