OWhat does a skilled engineer in Bengaluru do to bring the spicy flavors of Nagaland to the rest of India, as well as the world?
Building a thriving pickle business is what.
With his business The Rumbling Spoons, 31-year-old Nitu Viluo has even reached the union territories of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Port Blair, as well as 14 countries.
Nitu’s entrepreneurial spirit is filled with pride in its rich Northeastern culture.
“I am from the Angami Naga tribe and speak Angami, Nagamese Creole, English, Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, some Nepali and Kannada,” the Bengaluru-based entrepreneur said. at The Better India. “My goal is to offer traditional, carefully packaged food that evokes a warm atmosphere anywhere and everywhere.”
Growing up in the city of Dimapur, cooking has always fascinated him. “That simple smile and chatter about certain specialties is truly invaluable,” he says, adding, “Everyone in my family loves to cook. Being the youngest child with two older sisters, I haven’t been asked to cook much Our parents worked, so my sisters cooked for us.
He adds that as a child he relished traditional Angami dishes such as Galho, a rice porridge; smoked pork and snail — freshwater snail.
After class 10, he left to complete his class 12 in Kohima. Subsequently, he appeared for his JEE and graduated in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Karnataka in 2014.
Nitu’s learnings from watching his family’s cook came in handy at the inn, where he prepared Naga-style delicacies for his friends. “You meet different people in a government hostel – some prefer pork, some mutton and some chicken. So, I was making a simple chicken curry and kebabs that anyone could enjoy,” he recalls.
But after graduating, five years of hard work landed him in hospital for not being able to eat healthy, home-cooked meals. “In 2019, I left my job in the IT sector to prepare for bank competitions. But I was quickly hospitalized for stomach problems. After that, I tried to eat healthy foods,” he says.
Sick and away from his family, Nitu missed the comfort of his home and wanted to bring the flavors of Nagaland to the “Silicon Valley of India”. And what could be better than storing these dishes in pickles?
“I figured that by pickling Naga dishes, I could eat them with everything. I first made Naga-style pork pickles in a small batch of 20. I then distributed them to friends and colleagues Soon orders started pouring in from the company offices, especially from people from Nagaland,” he says.
The Rumbling Spoons
Nitu admits his parents were less than thrilled with his decision to take up pickling. “’You shouldn’t have quit your job to prepare for the exams,’ was the response I received from my parents. And when they found out I was going to make pickles for a living, they weren’t happy. They worried about my finances because I was left alone and away from home. But I cut expenses and relied on my savings at first,” adds the one-man army behind pickling, social media management and pickle marketing.
The Rumbling Spoons started with an initial investment of just Rs 500. Asked about the inspiration behind the name, he says he wanted to stand out from dozens of home chefs and others starting their food businesses. “I wanted our Naga tribal food to be enjoyed by everyone around the world. After careful consideration, I decided to call it ‘The Rumbling Spoons’ because it was catchy.
The brand’s USP is that everything is homemade, with no preservatives or MSG. Today, Nitu offers 21 types of pickles, including seasonal varieties. Their availability also depends on its capacity and production. Currently, eight types of pickles are available on its website – Pork, Silkworm, Beef, Chicken, Mushroom Kingchilli, Kingchilli and Jhal Chana.
Its best-selling pickles are the tasty Pork Pickle and the unique Oyster Mushroom Pickle. “The mushroom is first cleaned, shredded and then dried in the sun for a few hours. Later I fry it in mustard oil. It is also made with five spices (panch phoran) and Kingchillies,” Nitu explains enthusiastically.
The silkworm pickle is another chef’s specialty, cooked Naga style. “I use dried bamboo shoots, Sichuan pepper, fermented bamboo shoots, chilli powder, Kingchilli, mustard oil and salt,” he adds. The recipes for these pickles are all chef-tested who have documented specific amounts of ingredients, including the amount of water for the right consistency.
Here he confesses that most of his pickle flavors are spicy – key ingredients used in some of his pickles being Sichuan pepper, Kingchillies, Nagaland ginger, garlic, dried bamboo shoots and garlic. mustard oil. But he customizes the orders according to the requests.
Nitu sources these ingredients at home. “When I started, I couldn’t find any of these ingredients in Bengaluru, so I sourced ingredients from Assam and Manipur. In 2020, many stores were selling ingredients from the North East, but for consistency , I still source most of my ingredients at home,” he says.
He says a year after launch, he started getting 100 orders a month. Pickles were popularized through word of mouth and social media.
“Now The Rumbling Spoons reaches Korea, Japan, USA, Australia, UK, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, China and most neighboring countries”, he said with a smile.
“My pickles start from Rs 100 (Jhal Chana pickle) for around 100g and go up to Rs 280 (Silkworm pickle). The prices depend on the ingredients and also if it is vegetarian or non-vegetarian,” he says, adding, “I managed to make a profit of around 15%.”
The journey of this engineer running a stripping business, including designing his own label, has been filled with learning. “I learned a lot of discipline through engineering. Technical knowledge helps me stay ahead of the curve in this small business. Thanks to my work experience, I now know how to interact with people and empathize with them,” says the chef who was also a gourmet cooking show finalist — Naga Chef Season 8.
“I see myself and my calling becoming something bigger and brighter,” he says, adding that establishing a chain of ethnic cuisine, especially Naga-style, is next on the menu.
“The range of food in Nagaland and the North East region is vast, with lots of new things to discover. The food business is also surprisingly new to many people who see it as a part-time job or a hobby. As such, providing opportunities and encouraging entrepreneurial chefs will be a big step forward for all foodies to keep ‘rumbling their spoons’ which resonates far and near,” he says.
You can visit The Rumbling Spoons Instagram page here.
(Editing by Divya Sethu)