Mastering the science of making mithai
Young, enthusiastic, full of ideas, Chaitanya Muppala, the second-generation owner of the much-loved Indian sweets brand from Hyderabad ‘Almond House’...
Young, enthusiastic, full of ideas, Chaitanya Muppala, the second-generation owner of the much-loved Indian sweets brand from Hyderabad ‘Almond House’ launched ‘Indulge’ a homemade ice cream, a couple of years ago. Much trial went into making this uniquely fresh ice cream - 15 flavours that include almond butter, real vanilla, and not the essence, extracted from the pods, roasted cocoa, Qubani ka meetha and Bellam kaju (jaggery and cashew) and sorbettos.
Coming from a brand that is known for its quality and trustworthiness, the ice creams had to have the edge, evidently so were made with no added flavours, essence, colour or preservatives. And each batch of ice cream was kept for a maximum of two days, beyond which the entire batch was discarded, and a fresh batch would be made.
In addition, the main store at Banjara Hills was shifted to a new glitzy, spacious and customer friendly store that can handle the rush during peak seasons, festival times, especially during Diwali. On a lean day Almond House makes around two and half tonnes of sweets which multiplies by 300 to 500 per cent during Diwali.
A recent visit to his large central kitchen in Kukatpally, Hyderabad, fully equipped with skilled staff who work with machine-like precision, and latest equipment, revealed an ever-emerging brand that does not rest on its past glory, but reinvents itself. The kitchen follows Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), where the air is filtered, humidity is controlled, sterilised and to ensure good air quality, is checked for microbial content every week, in addition to screening these staff handling the food all of which lends itself suitable for the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) certification.
Each floor is divided to ensure better work flow, and the process is being continuously re-invented to make it as automated as possible to avoid touching with hands; vacuum packaging is being done to ensure longevity, even though Chaitanya believes in dolling out fresh products each time. “These days every sweet shop is having a great looking store and amazing packaging. We have to make a difference with our quality, and standardisation.”
However, the challenge with Indian sweets is the need for human involvement and subjectivity to see, judge the consistency etc, to prepare, and hence it needs continuous effort. “It is not a fly-by-night process. Every day we add something. Many companies are working towards it, and soon we will need a common platform to discuss our understandings,” opines Chaitanya.
Much of Chaitanya’s energy is spent on adapting cutting edge practices to create a niche in the overcrowded market. “I am not looking at huge expansion, even though we strive to reach customers where ever they are. My marketing perspective is focused on freshness,” he reveals.
In addition to opening his kitchen for customers who would like to visit and get to see Kaju Katli, Badam Halwa, Mysore Pak, Sunnundalu in the making even while savouring the aromas of freshly made sweets; Chaitanya has recently introduced innovative fusion chaats and sweets as an extension of his Kukatpally store – Gappe Vappe. You can get to taste the likes of Pani puri with three different combos, noodle chaat, water melon and ginger rosgulla, pavbhaji fondue, matar kachori chaat to name a few. Also, on the cards is a performing space cum café on Road No 12, Banjara Hills.
A hand-on boss who has made the business of mithai making an emerging science and food experts and chefs, who share his passion for innovation and quality carry the legacy of Almond House to the next generation.