Healthy to junk, savoury to sweet, Patil Kaki promises to deliver authentic, homemade Maharashtrian snacks to your home
Geeta Patil makes Maharashtrian snacks that are hard to get in the lockdown and are otherwise available in the city only during the festive season. Pics/Sameer Markande
Not all heroes wear capes. My mother, Kamlabai Nivugale, wore an apron. Her superpower was cooking,” smiles Geeta Patil, as she begins talking about her mother’s catering business in Kolhapur back in ’70s. “I’d sit on a step stool and help her stir curries in large pots. As a kid, I was just her assistant. I couldn’t single-handedly take on the kitchen, but I remember being a chopping board ninja. She loved having me around, helping her cut vegetables,” recalls Patil, 46. The mother-daughter duo would serve as many as 20 people per day with authentic Kolhapuri veg and non-veg thalis.
Today, Patil is the masterchef of her own home in Santa Cruz. She has around 10 women working under her in a small, rented setup in Vakola. Together, they make mouth-watering Maharashtrian snacks, ranging from poha, chivda and shankarpali to chakli, besan ladoo, ukadiche modak and karanji. “It all started in 2017, when my husband, Govinda, lost his job as a clerk in a dental lab. We had to educate our two sons—Vinit, 15, and Darshan, 21. I had to step up and use my cooking skills, inherited from my aai, to make a living.”
She came in touch with BMC employees posted at the Prabhat Colony office. They wanted a homechef to send over tea-time snacks and lunch. Patil was game. “Initially, I sent them breakfast items like poha, upma, sheera, idli and dosa. Slowly, we moved to delivering evening snacks like batata vada and aloo parathas. Everything was happening on a small scale. I was just using my mother’s catering tactics to run a small business of my own.”
But Patil’s health issues cropped up and she had to temporarily resign. It was in the Coronavirus-induced lockdown last year that she decided to resume the business. This time, very seriously and extensively. “Vinit told me, we should build a website so we have a wider reach. We also planned to make and deliver only Maharashtrian snacks. This is because festive items like puran poli, modaks, karanji and shankarpali were not being made in the lockdown. People were craving these. So, it made sense to tap into this client base.”
Named simply Patil Kaki, the home business delivers the crunchiest chaklis, softest puran polis and healthiest protein ladoos. After word spread, the number of orders increased. “While we started in July 2020, by the end of last year, our fanbase had grown in neighbouring areas. Our methi ladoos, priced at Rs 494 for 1/2 kg, are very healthy. All our snacks give a taste of maa ke haath ka khana. So people also trust in us. The journey wasn’t easy at all, but the learning never stops,” she smiles.
Patil Kaki’s mission is to provide A-grade products and also revolutionise the Indian snack market to push producers to make more clean and health conscious offerings. “Our best-selling snack, however, is also my favourite—puranpolis. My aai used to make the best of them. But I think I have managed to make equally tasty puranpolis for our clients. We use very little sugar and more jaggery, making it a healthy option for all.” Patil Kaki is now delivering beyond Mumbai, to Navi Mumbai, Thane, Nashik and even Goa. “But only dry snacks go to these regions, as items like puranpoli and ladoos may get spoiled during prolonged travel,” she says, adding, “We are affordable, our food is hygienic, and the best part is that you can eat homemade faral [Marathi snacks] without having to wait for Diwali or Gudi Padwa.” Patil says she’s determined not to let the lockdown play spoilsport and rob us of our favourite eats.
It’s true that Maharashtrians make faral only during festivals. It is also true that the COVID-19 pandemic has come in the way of devouring these sweets and snacks. A lot of households order these items on an occasion basis as opposed to making them at home. But with fewer options available in the lockdown, Patil Kaki is a venture that comes as a pleasant surprise. We tried their chaklis (Rs 274 for 1/2 kg), puranpolis (Rs 185 for five pieces), chivda (Rs 219 for 1/2 kg), ukadiche modak (Rs 179 for five pieces) and pure ghee besan ladoos (Rs 439 for 1/2 kg). While we loved the amount of maa ka love laced into every item, our favourite was the modak. It had been a while since this writer had these steamed dumplings, and a pack of five was demolished within minutes. They were soft and melt-in-mouth. If you are someone who wants an instant coconut and jaggery fix, this item ought to make it to your shopping cart.
To order: www.patilkaki.com