Saffron Fix markets a healthier, DIY alternative to Indian take-out

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: Saffron Fix
Photo: Saffron Fix

Related tags: Indian cuisine

Co-founder Ankita Sharma says Saffron Fix is the Blue Apron of Indian Food, giving subscribers access to hard-to-find spices and freedom to adjust measurements and ingredients.

“When I was working in Manhattan before I did my MBA, I would see so many co-workers getting Indian take-out or Thai take-out,”​ Sharma said. “I wondered if we could just deliver the ingredients to their doorstep if they would be interested in cooking it as well.”

To satiate her curiosity, Ankita and her friend, Saffron Fix co-founder Madhuri, launched a Kickstarter campaign for their Indian food meal kit delivery back in 2014, a concept inspired by then freshly created Blue Apron.

“The meal kit revolution was just barely starting. The delivery model was picking up very quickly, that’s what we discussed in my classes,” ​she told FoodNavigator-USA about her time pursuing an MBA at New York University.

“Being an Indian-American, I figured this would be a great way to bring Indian ingredients to people’s homes. I live in Hoboken, and there’s no Indian grocery store to find these things.”

A meal kit from Saffron Fix, taken from the Kickstarter campaign.

She thought that, at a time where everything is at your fingertips, the inaccessibility to Indian ingredients was odd. “That was the gap we wanted to fill, most non-Indian people I know here would at least eat Indian food on a weekly basis,” ​she said.

Surpassing their goal

The Kickstarter campaign was a success. They exceeded their goal of $10,000, raising a total of $18,612 in 44 days, with the help of 334 backers. “It took us two months to fill the orders,” ​Sharma said about giving the campaign backers the perks they promised, which includes getting a meal kit.

Two years later, earlier this year, Saffron Fix officially launched. Learning from their two months of prepping food to send off to backers, the team decided on a subscription model. “We picked the subscription model because it gives you a lot of predictability,”​ she said, adding that if consumers can order at their whims, it will give the team a hard time figuring out what to do with the labor and facility when momentarily underused.

Another reason why their entrepreneurial cravings led to meal kits was because it allows consumers to control the quantities. “You control the spiciness, and you control the oil, the cream—we give you all the variables and you control the quantity of all of them,” ​she said.

Saffron Fix Founder
Saffron Fix Founders Madhuri and Ankita.

Locally sourced ingredients for people from all over

Madhuri’s food industy background gave the team a vast network of chefs, allowing them to source high quality ingredients locally. They have an automated facility in New Jersey, but everything else, such as packaging, is done manually.

As for their backers and subscribers, they come from all over. “Our personal networks are mostly Indian, South Asian, Indian-Americans, but I would say 70% to 75% of our subscribers are people we’ve never heard of, a large non South Asian clientele,” ​she said. “The remaining [30%] is friends and family.”

Their service also targeted the people they were aiming for—people with less to no access to Indian ingredients. “We have enthusiastic response from suburbanites, where there is less of a take-out culture or access to [regional specialty] grocery stores,” ​Sharma added.

The menu offered changes, and Sharma described it as a fusion, not just between the two different regions of India (North and South), but also East and West. “We’re also experimenting but it’s not lacking authenticity, we’re adding ingredients Americans are familiar with,” ​Sharma said. One sample is their kit for salmon tikka masala.

“You can have Indian flavors and Indian cooking techniques with any ingredient you want. We want to bring a very fresh, healthy take on Indian food,” ​she said. “That’s what we’re trying to do.”

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