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Cloud kitchens turn biryani into a hot-selling fast food

The FICCI-PWC report pegged the organised biryani delivery industry at around Rs 2,500 crore - companies here include Hyderabad's  Paradise, Behrouz Biryani, Biryani Blues, and Biryani by Kilo among others

twitter-logo Goutam Das        Last Updated: April 30, 2019  | 16:57 IST
Cloud kitchens turn biryani into a hot-selling fast food
Biryani is increasingly being packaged and delivered like pizza, especially by companies running cloud kitchens or those who may not have dine-in restaurants./ Image Source: Zomato

There is one Indian fast food that is giving pizzas and burgers a run for the money. Indians have an ever-growing appetite for the biryani. Yes, it is meant to be slow-cooked but the biryani is increasingly being packaged and delivered like pizza, especially by companies running cloud kitchens or those who may not have dine-in restaurants; they depend on home delivery as the primary business.

A report by industry body FICCI and PWC, 'The changing landscape of the retail food service industry', which was released in December 2018, stated that ethnic cuisine is rising in the organised segment of India's food services market. "Over the last few years as food delivery apps, quick-service restaurants (QSRs) and take-away outlets have begun to dominate, biryani has emerged as an unlikely champion of India's fast food scene, unseating pizzas and burgers, which used to dominate standardised fast food kitchens. According to food delivery apps, it is among the most popular dish ordered and its demand far surpasses that of Western imports," the report mentioned.

Zomato, for instance, reported that Chicken Biryani was the most ordered food item as well as the most picked up in 2018. Other food apps reported similar findings even in 2017.

The FICCI-PWC report pegged the organised biryani delivery industry at around Rs 2,500 crore - companies here include Hyderabad's  Paradise, Behrouz Biryani, Biryani Blues, and Biryani by Kilo among others. Some of them have raised angel and venture capital and want to build their biryani business into a worldwide chain. Business Today recently spoke to Vishal Jindal, co-founder of Biryani by Kilo, to understand this story. Here is what he said:

1. From a consumer's point of view, biryani as a product caters well for ordering-in. It doesn't get soggy as a burger would. It is also a complete meal with protein, carbs, and loads of flavour. On the other hand, newer food services start-ups prefer the cloud kitchen model since there are less capital costs and no rentals, a bugbear in the dine-in model. The cloud kitchens can be located in areas that are not prime.

2. Nevertheless, it is difficult for cloud kitchen companies to build a brand - there are too many players who try to do many food categories from one kitchen, everything from sandwiches to curries. Biryani by Kilo just focusses on biryanis and kebabs. It serves three biryanis - Hyderabadi, Lucknowi, Kolkata - and has positioned itself in the premium segment. Half a kilo of biryani can cost above Rs 400. The company uses two years naturally aged basmati rice, the masalas are sourced from Kerala and the butchery is done in-house for quality control. It has a longer delivery time - deliveries can take up to 80 minutes since the biryani is prepared in individual earthenware after an order is received. The company wants to control the whole value-chain including the last mile. About 150 are employed as delivery staff. "Having your own delivery people makes a difference because they are able to represent the brand better, and explain the product to the customer," Jindal says.

3. The company wants to build an 'idiot-proof model'. In other words, it is working on automation, and making its systems and processes robust like that of McDonald's or KFC. Doing that means it wouldn't need very experienced chefs to run its kitchens; people will low skills could also be trained to prepare biryani. The company, currently, has a turnover of Rs 50 crore from 15 cloud kitchens and five dine-in outlets across NCR, Punjab, and Mumbai. It is exploring master franchisee options in the UAE and the UK.

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