Edited by Vanishree
Picture this: It’s a Sunday afternoon and surprisingly, it isn’t burning hot. You’re sitting in your balcony and admiring the sky and its changing colours. The wind is soft against your skin and there’s probably some acoustic music playing in the background. The week has been long enough to feel like a month and you’re finally happy to have some moment of calm. Still, it doesn’t feel complete. Something is missing, but what? Your stomach grumbles and you remember just how long it’s been since breakfast. In the distance, the doorbell rings and you get up with a sigh. Even before you open the door, you’re hit with the spicy aroma of freshly cooked biryani. Biryani! Packed delicately with love and warmth, you take in the delivery and heave a sigh of relief. That missing factor? Yep. Biryani. Is your day now complete? Why, yes, it is.
Here, meet Biryani Badshah: the Bangalore business behind that fantasy. Run by the siblings, Aamina (23) and Amaan Asim (19), Biryani Badshah provides its customers with the popular authentic firewood Muslim biryani. The business was started just about a year ago and has, so far, served more than 500 customers! Aamina works with the organisation and management of operations and handles the social media department and Amaan handles marketing and the management of orders. In conversation with Amaan, he recounted the beginning of Biryani Badhshah and the trials and tribulations of managing the business as a student, a beginner, and most importantly, in the middle of the pandemic.
Biryani Badshah (BB) started as a stall at a pre-Ramzan bazaar event, last year. For nine hours, without rest, they served biryani. Nine hours! The event was so, so successful that then and there, their customers started to ask for their visiting cards, some even enquired about bulk orders! What was meant to be merely a one-day event turned into a full-blown business that is now even taking small catering orders. Their order system is something I actually found quite interesting – it’s on a pre-order basis only, where all orders are taken over the week and finally delivered on Sundays. Naturally, this is a very efficient system, making management of orders and inventory much easier. Especially for students (with the week being packed with classes and readings and whatnot. *Big sigh.*)
But this growth for BB, obviously, was not easy. Biryani, being so universal, has a very competitive market. When I asked Amaan about this, he surprised me with his optimistic view over it: yes, biryani has a competitive market, yes, that is a problem, but that is also what makes it easy to sell – everyone loves biryani! No one looks at biryani and double-guesses it (and really, how can you!?). And, in terms of competition, Biryani Badshah has a lot to offer! The very first being the quality of their biryani -– firewood biryani is not that easily available, especially in smaller portions as conventionally it is mainly ordered in bulk for about 4-5kgs. What’s even better is that they are not as expensive as other firewood biryani businesses. Also, and okay, I know this might hurt *some* biryani lovers, but they also serve veg biryani! All this has made BB very popular and for Bangaloreans, traditionally cooked biryani, much easily available.
The competitive market was not the only problem they faced though. Being new to the food industry naturally meant that knowledge about sourcing, procurement, and delivery was limited. But, to quote Amaan on this, they did know what quality and taste they wanted their biryani to be, and that helped in balancing it all out.
But being a student entrepreneur has its own complications – finding that work-life balance is not easy. Amaan, being the one behind the marketing and management of orders, admitted that the business often faced a lag because of academic priorities. Last year, the business did end up taking a break because of how hard it got to manage college and work together, especially from afar. What’s amazing is that even then Amaan was receiving calls in between his classes asking, ‘biryani hai kya!? (is there biryani!?)’
But, while the pandemic has allowed him to manage things from home now, it has brought its own set of issues, too. Summer, the ideal time for student entrepreneurs to revamp their businesses, ended up being a lull period for BB. Even as they sent out a survey to their clients to gauge their interest regarding orders and deliveries and received a positive response in May, they only re-started the business in June. They established quality control measures and instead of relying on Swiggy delivery options, they formed their own delivery team to allow them to monitor safety protocols more closely. The response they have received is surprisingly better now, and according to Amaan, what has helped is that BB being a small business, makes it easier for customers to place their faith in them (in terms of safety precautions.)
Talking about the future, Biryani Badshah is definitely thinking of expanding its menu items and including new varieties like kebabs (yum), and they might even expand the business within the city! Sadly for non-Bangaloreans, a state-wide expansion of BB is unlikely, as that would risk the very aspects of the business that makes their customers choose them. Amaan’s advice to young entrepreneurs is to not be scared of starting something new and yes, there will be issues, but you will adapt and overcome them over time! That is how you gain experience, and, lastly, his parting tip was, “if you have confidence in your idea, that’s enough to propel you.”
Amaan is currently studying Political Science at Ashoka University, Sonepat and Aamina is an MSc Finance graduate and you can find their business, Biryani Badshah, on Instagram @biryaniblr. If this article hasn’t convinced you to try them out, their feed full of biryani and kind reviews definitely will!