How PC Musthafa Changed The Way People Eat Dosas

iD Fresh Foods, with its plethora of batters and parathas, has invaded most Indian kitchens. And here’s how they did it.

Published On Apr 26, 2023 | Updated On Mar 06, 2024

Image

It all began with PC Mustafa and his cousins who owned a small grocery store in Indiranagar in Bengaluru. Given PC’s background – he’s an MBA graduate – and his constant need to try something different and new, the two decided to experiment with something that had not quite been done before. They decided to sell pre-made packaged idli and dosa batter. This was nearly 18 years ago when Bengalureans could not imagine buying batter from a store. The most they would do is go to a neighbourhood dosa mill and get it made in front of them. “We also noticed that there were shops that sold idli and dosa batter in plain pouches, sealed with an elastic band. These were unhygienic and often had complaints from consumers. That’s when we got the idea of launching branded batter in packaged format. We didn’t have enough money to go big and there was no tech available to us, so we bought a mixer and a grinder and set up a small kitchen of 50 square-feet in Thippasandra,” PC begins. 

It took them nearly a year to get the product right. And even then, it was extremely difficult for PC to sell it. These were two of the most popular breakfast products in question, people – other retailers or customers - were just not willing to buy into the packaged batter idea. “It was a backbreaking job. Our daily task was to go to market every day, buy the rice, come back, clean it, wash, soak, grind, mix, ferment it, and package it the next day morning, load it on our scooters and try to sell it ourselves,” he adds. 

Image
The co-founders of iD Fresh

PC says that despite the hardships they really enjoyed the journey and to have served more than a million households since their inception. “We didn’t come from rich families; we didn’t want to take a loan to expand our business. So, we started small and took baby steps. It was only in 2014 that we raised enough funds to put the brand on its current path. Till then, we were just a startup.” 

This ‘startup’ had big plans though. After the dosa and idli batter, they added one of Kerala’s much-loved products to their portfolio – the Malabar Parota – in 2010. These hand-rolled and machine-pressed parotas found success fast and in 2013, it was taken to Dubai.  

In 2016, iD Fresh went to Cochin and Coimbatore, two really tough markets when it comes to south Indian food in packaged form. It was also the year they introduced the Udupi-style idli batter and curd and paneer

“Innovation is key,” PC says, “And we want to give our customers fresh food, without chemicals or preservatives. So, we source our ingredients carefully. Our food products are 100 per cent natural and clean. And that’s the trust we have built amid our customers over the past 15-16 years. We have a strong team that ensures that everything is in place and done accurately. And I think what is one of our biggest USPs is our distribution network. We sell directly and every day.” 

The company also sticks to traditional methods when it comes to preparing the products. “We use lemon juice concentrate to make paneer and not citric acid. The same goes for our bread, and we might just be one of the few brands of bread in the market that uses zero chemicals or preservatives,” PC explains. 

Image

Now despite capturing a fair share of the market in their product categories, what’s really interesting though is the fact that PC admits that till date his mother won’t buy his batter to make dosas or idlis. “If I take it with me or send it, she’ll use it, but she won’t buy it. So technically, my mother is not my customer or target audience. She’s just that used to making batter at home. My wife on the other hand, won’t make batter at home because it is time consuming for her.”

From parathas to the squeezy pack to make vadas and paneer and bread, and of course not to mention the ready filter coffee decoctions, iD has thought of everything one might want to eat for breakfast or even as a snack. And there’s more in the pipeline. “We have about three to four new products that are going to hit the shelves in a few months but till then, you’ll just have to wait for it,” PC tells us.  

What he’ll tell us though that of all the things he’s ever eaten, in India or anywhere else a good biryani from Dubai is his go-to thing, although he does favour the parathas from his own brand as well. “I also love Lebanese food. I am not a big fan of anything too hot or spicy, so Lebanese works perfectly for me."


Photo: Featured Brand

POPULAR ON ZEST