KOCHI: For MBA graduates Hafez Rahman and Akshay Raveendran, the pandemic was a wake up call. While many like them were hoping to tide over the economic downturn brought in by Covid-19 with their jobs still intact, the duo saw it as an opportunity to swim against the tide.
Both friends not only gambled with their careers to start an experimental venture amid the uncertainty but also resolved to provide employment to perhaps the most undervalued contributors in the society — homemakers and middle-aged mothers. Their labour of love is an exclusive, authentically Malayali fusion pickle brand suggestively named ‘Athey Nallatha’.
“I was an HR professional and Akshay was working in the marketing department of a sports brand prior to this. We have been friends since our MBA days but Covid-19 was the trigger for us to become business partners. Both of us were disturbed by the fact that people were losing their livelihood due to layoffs. One day, I was talking to my mother about the same and she suggested that I should start something that would generate employment.
That prompted us to quit our respective jobs and look for a viable opportunity. The most captivating entry into a business is food and we found that the bottled pickle segment was lacking in terms of quality and variety,” says Hafez. Launched in the middle of the pandemic crisis in June, ‘Athey Nallatha’ burst into the little explored premium pickle market with appetising combinations such as beef and carrot, fish and mango, lemon and dates and more intriguingly prawns and papaya.
“We have five pickle varieties on our menu as of now. Each of them is an unique blend of ingredients. The fish and mango pickle which we call Jalpushp 2.0 is a nod to the popular meen manga curry of Kerala. There is a lot of nostalgia associated with the dish but not everyone can cook it at home so we decided to bottle it for convenience.
While Jalpushp 2.0 evokes fond memories, our prawns and papaya variant was created keeping the health factor in mind. Over consumption of prawns can damage the digestive system but papaya balances the ill effects. We consulted a nutritionist before pairing the two together,” adds Hafez.
Apart from consulting food designers, chefs and their mothers to develop the recipes for their trademark pickles, him and Akshay set out to forge a model with a collective of women to make lip-smacking, wholesome and even healthy achaars. ‘Athey Nallatha’ which has its main facility in Thrippunithura, Kochi sources various half-made and home processed components from four fragmented units across Ernakulam, all operated by housewives.
“We currently have 13 women employees. We initially produced in small batches but since our customer base has grown, we have ramped up production as well. However, we make sure all our raw materials are of excellent quality. We mostly receive orders from South India but people residing in Gulf countries have also shown a lot of interest,” says Akshay. With plans to enter the retail space soon, the brand is working towards launching other fusion pickle variants including chicken and prawns and brinjal and kovakkai.
Shop for Athey Nallatha’s pickles @ atheynallatha.com