Mumbai-based Prerna and Preetika Chawla splashed a little masala mixed drama in their kitchen and created jars of happiness, with mango, lemon, or even carrot. Their venture, Pickle Shickle, has been off to a great start, being lapped up at various food pop-ups in the city.
Preetika has worked with a political magazine. She has also dabbled with nonfiction programming for television, having worked as an executive producer in a production house, Prerna, on the other hand, pursued an acting career in theatre. They moonlight as home chefs. The Chawla sisters, who are originally from Delhi, became famous among friends and colleagues for their mum-made special pork pickles.
Life Outside The Kitchen
“Prerna’s life and career paths and mine have somewhat mirrored one another. We are like twins born four years apart. She moved to Bombay 15 years ago. She has acted in some of the biggest productions on stage and is proud to have recently made her directorial debut,” Preetika said.
“I joined Prerna in Mumbai 11 years ago to pursue my deep passion of acting and producing. I have acted in several stage productions since, and also a few web series and film and also produced under my banner — Final Call Productions,” she told us about their dual lives.
“Our childhood was by no means an easy one, but all our fondest memories, strangely, include food and travel!”
How cooking happened
“The first cake I ever baked was used by my father as a door stopper. To a very heavy door! So let’s just say it didn’t always start off so smooth. But experiencing failure is the best way to improve. And I kept at it,” says Preetika.
We are passionate about good food, the bonding of memories, the simple joy and the great communal experiences that are to be had while enjoying great food, she adds.
One thing we really enjoy is hosting large dinner parties where we experiment with different cuisines.
“In August 2016, Prerna and I, on a lark decided to put our grandmothers recipe of pickles into jars and sell them. And there’s been no turning back since.”
We are very carefully juggling our other professional life. Luckily, it is an erratic one, so we can extend and manipulate the hours in a day.
Future expansion plans
Recently, we have been getting a lot of repeat orders from friends outside the country. And we realised that our expansion plan basically entails having Pickle Shickle accessible in all parts of the country and abroad.
Being Home Chef Is: Self-awareness
“I think it is important to recognise who one is. Prerna and I are not designed to be part of a 9-5 structure. So, we are trying to create a realm in which we can thrive to the best of our abilities”
Support from family
Our family has always been very enthusiastic about food and feeding people. Prerna and my house in the Bombay theatre circle is jokingly referred to as the Dubai airport if you’re flying Emirates! We love good food! And we love to share it!
I would be remiss not to mention our mother’s tremendous support through this. Starting a business can be a daunting experience — but when you have the support and guidance of those closest to you, it makes the work far easier and pushes you to believe in yourself.
I strongly believe that if you care enough about something and you work your tail off to make it the best that you can, the product will speak for itself and people will gravitate towards it naturally. We are very proud and humbled with the initial response to our pickles.
Of course, our grandmother has been overwhelmed seeing her recipe being enjoyed by so many, many people.
Since the growth has been so organic, each step of the way has been a fairly peaceful adjustment for everybody because we are all taking these tiny steps together.
With every business, there will always be some bumps and bruises along the way. This is part of the experience. However, once the idea clicked, we have not wavered once. We know this is how we’d like to spend our time.
Cooking as a Liberated Profession for Women
“There is nothing in the world that is impossible, it’s just about altering expectations and utilising the resources at hand to the best of one’s ability. And strive to keep improving. The beauty of the modern times we live in, is that people can carve their own career path. And yes, several women (and men) are absolutely doing this. It is heartening and a welcome change in our country.”
Scope for Young Girls
I suppose this has been a norm in almost every industry, where top level positions were secured by men. But this is fast becoming a thing of the past. I don’t think this is something I even notice anymore actually, because women are making their presence felt.
We keep a tight schedule that we stick to. If this seems tiring or exhausted – it’s actually not. There is nothing more invigorating than doing what you love
About Indians Trying Out New Cuisines
We Indians are absolutely open to trying to new cuisines, new tastes and new styles of cooking. This is evident in the growing eclectic food scene in India – where the most popular restaurants are serving Japanese, French, Korean etc. fare along with Indian-fusion food being incredibly in-demand.
USP: All pickles are off-beat. And they’re super fun and versatile
We are trying to have our pickles at as many retail outlets (Delhi, Bombay, Goa, Dehradun etc), as possible, over the next few months. We offer a delivery service for the jars in Delhi and Mumbai at the moment. We are hoping to cover the rest of the country over the next few months too. At pop-ups we offer up all our live food, and do home deliveries too, for gatherings.
Women & Stereotype
Sadly, women in this country are believed to belong to kitchen. But it is our endeavour to break this everywhere we see it. This is not something we can suddenly change overnight, but it’s something that is changing and starts with every one of us.