Mrs Kokila Parekh is a 79-year-old lady who lives in Santa Cruz West, Mumbai, with her son Tushar Parekh and daughter-in-law Preeti Parekh. She is well-known among her family and friends for being very active, cooking delicious Gujarati food, and making a flavourful secret masala powder that can be added to chai or milk.
The masala powder recipe has been passed down by her ancestors and Mrs. Parekh has been making chai and milk with it for her family members for years now. When guests come home they are served her famous masala chai with some hot snacks.
“Guests and family members always complimented me on the chai andI would tell them about the flavourful masala that I added to enhance the taste. When the guests left I would pack the powder for them to take along. Once it got over, they would ask me to make some more for them. The masala powder not only enhances the taste of tea but also provides immunity and improves digestion” says Mrs Parekh, adding that the word about her secret masala powder spread across her extended family and friend circles and everyone started asking her to make some for them.
Initially, Mrs. Parekh would make a few extra kilos to distribute among these circles but, last month, she decided to start selling her chai masala powder across the country.
Spending time productively
Mrs Parekh’s daily routine was going to the temple in the morning, supervising the cook who made breakfast, spending time with her daughter-in-law, taking an afternoon nap, going to meet a relative or a friend in the evening, and helping around the kitchen to cook dinner.
During the recent lockdown, Mrs Parekh had to stop going to the temple and visiting relatives and friends. The best way to keep herself occupied, she figured, was to start a business selling her chai masala powder.
Since she had already mastered the secret recipe for the masala powder, the next step was to select a name for her brand. She went with – KT Chai Masala, short for ‘Kokila and Tushar’s Chai Masala’.
Tushar is Mrs Parekh’s youngest child who runs a business manufacturing yarn thread. He helped his mother by designing the logo, getting in touch with vendors to source good quality raw materials (spices) in bulk, and finding the right kind of packaging material for their masala to ship it across the country.
Preeti, Mrs Parekh’s daughter-in-law, says, “Initially maa would make the masala using a regular mixer grinder in our kitchen, but when she decided to make it in bulk we purchased a commercial mixing unit that grinds large quantities. The masala is then packed in airtight packets, which come with a ziplock sealer. This helps to maintain the shelf-life of the product and if someone wishes to carry the powder with them while travelling it can be done so with ease. We got the packets made from a third-party vendor, along with our logo printed on it.”
While Mrs Parekh makes the masala, the packaging is done by three domestic helpers. To ensure the product is hygienic, Mrs Parekh and the helpers wear hairnets, masks and gloves while handling the masala.
About the Chai Masala
The masala is made using various ingredients such as lemon powder, dried ginger powder, cardamom, and pepper in different proportions. It has a shelf-life of 6-8 months if stored in an airtight container.
Tripti Batra, a resident of Mumbai, purchased the chai masala after coming across the KT Chai Masala Facebook page. Although she has tried several types of masala chais from the market, nothing comes close to the KT masala chai, according to Tripti.
“The masala is very fresh and adds the right amount of flavour to the tea. When I tried it, the first thought that popped into my mind was that it was tailor-made for chai lovers. If someone is a fan of masala chai they must definitely try KT chai masala. Initially, I purchased 100gms for a trial, now I have about half a kilo with me,” says Tripti.
The masala is sold in 50gm packets for Rs.125, 100gm for Rs.250, and 250gm for Rs. 625. The product is shipped across the country and a delivery charge is applicable for orders below 100gms.
To date, Mrs Parekh has received more than 500 orders from Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, and Ahmedabad.
If you wish to support their business or try some of Mrs Parekh’s chai masala powder, you can place an order through their Facebook page or by sending a message to 9820584461.