Indian tiffin catches on in the US

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Did anyone read this article in NY Times. What a cool idea! Any foodie, who dream of owning their own restaurant, maybe this is the first step. And what a clever way to tap into the large Indian community, longing for some homestyle Indian food.
Kavita Srivathsan, 29, the chief executive of Annadaata, got her start by cooking meals for her new husband and his friends.

“I didn’t know how to cook, and the first two months after getting married my husband and I went out to eat all the time,” she said from her home in San Jose. “Two months later our credit card bills were out of control and we were both gaining weight. At the end of the day I just wanted the basic Indian food I had grown up with.”

She did not have a job at the time, so she spent her time learning how to cook Indian foods. Using recipes from her mother in south India, she experimented in the kitchen for a few hours each day. On a whim, she advertised $5 box meals on justindia.com ( read the whole article here)

So, when is this coming to Connecticut?

14 responses »

  1. HeY!!!Iam wondering where am I?I lov green..Way to go gal!!!I read the article and it’s so amazing to read her story and I wish I can pull off something like that some day..

    Isn’t the story amazing. Sounds like one of us,right? I guess making the right move at the right time is worth a lot! 

  2. I wanted to wish you earlier on your one year anniversary but i figured better late than never…so Good luck and many more years to come for successful blogging..

  3. Hi Gini,
    I think you ought to do some more formatting.When i clicked on some categories..it is showing out of the bounds..But its ok..i was just telling to make it perfect if you have time….When i changed the template the same thing happened to me too..

    Thanks Annita…Yeah, I noticed the out of bound pics, but then I decided to leave it that way. I kind of liked that… 

  4. The article is inspiring, makes us understand better since we share common that great common world. May we wish some of us could turn like that some one, someday 🙂
    Love this cool color and looks more pleasant especially the design on left upper quadrant.
    Congrads on your First year, wishing you great years of blogging ahead 🙂

  5. Yeah, good question rocksea. I guess I love my present job and cooking will always be a hobby. I don’t think I will be ever motivated to start a food business. But who knows?

  6. Hello
    I am attatching an article / letter I sent to the New York Times a few days back.
    It is about “annadaata” the Indian Food company based in the South Bay. They have been stealing 50 images from spicevice.com since 2004. Simple requests to them to take them down have yeilded no response….not even a sorry. They arent taking my calls anymore. I am the wronged party here and they’ve talked to me like crap.

    I request you to take 5 minutes from your day and please read it…..pass it on to anyone you think may be interested or if you think they could help me.

    I will be thankful and grateful for any help and support.
    Thank you
    Shalini

    I steal by choice.com
    taking copyright theft to the people

    It is 4:20 am on Sunday morning in San Francisco. The street outside is coming alive with cleaners and volunteers as the Mission district slowly wakes to its annual Carnival. Tired and yet unable to sleep, I’m sitting here typing away – attempting to compose feverish thoughts and hopefully lucid anger onto paper. As you can probably tell, I am not a writer. I am however enraged. I feel violated. “Pick your battles”, my mom used to say. You cannot change everything. Normally, I wouldn’t be complaining in an open forum. However, this is an injustice I choose to speak about – aloud.

    Who am I?

    I am Shalini Bhalla. I am a first generation immigrant from India, living in San Francisco for the last 5 years. Like many young Indian women of my generation, I arrived here, newly married to a software engineer, looking to make a living in the Silicon Valley. Except – I was an architect. Worse still, our arrival coincided with the dotcom bust. No jobs for architectural designers here. I had a completely useless set of professional qualifications for the time. Then I lost my mother to ovarian cancer and my brother was undergoing chemotherapy in Bombay for Hodgkin’s disease. With all this going on, life as I had known it, had changed completely.

    I set about busying myself with setting up home. Having suddenly fallen into a high-risk category for cancer, I started looking for answers. Something I could have done that might have saved my mom and maybe could help my brother now. I developed a special interest in clean, organic produce. Having grown up with great cooks at home, my interest soon spread from fabulous tasting ingredients to the farmers who grew them. Impact of the food we eat – on the environment and us, industries that made it possible to farm “clean and green” and interacting with farmers who provide that nourishing produce – all this soon had my husband and me hooked into the need for green, local and sustainable, Indian food. Most of all, I wanted to spread awareness in the local Indian community in the bay area. Yes – organic and sustainable does cost more. But it’s not just a fad and farmers are not out to fleece you. Quite the opposite. It is about clean, health-giving food. It is about making educated choices – not the cheapest ones.

    Ironically, it was coming to the U.S. that opened my eyes to the very international nature of “traditional Indian” cuisine. From this distance it was almost easier to see the influences of the British, Portuguese, French, the Middle East, China, etc on what we perceive as “traditional Indian” food today. It was amazing to see and decipher connections between architecture, language, history, world politics, trade and food. Did you know for example that Indian food wasn’t always spicy? In fact the very early British traders did not have much trouble with the local food at all. The Spanish introduced red chillies later to India.

    After architecture, I had found something I was passionate about again. The hope that I could reinvent myself grew.

    That’s what I did. I started Spice Vice.
    But Immigration requirements meant I would have to wait for a green card to start a business. So I put my creative energies into researching, cooking and building up a huge database of Indian food – something old and something new. It has taken long hours, hard work and it hasn’t been easy.

    So now I’ve reinvented myself, who am I?

    Ina sense, I am my passion for food – this passion has given me purpose and therefore sanity for 5 years trapped as a “home maker”.
    I am also “a database” – one gigantic file on my computer which has recipes and pictures of all the food I make and create.
    This is all I have done, and all I have to show for 5 years of working at home.

    How much is this database (or part of) worth?

    While doing research for my business plan recently, I came across an article in the New York Times. Titled “Knock, knock. Its Indian Comfort Food” by Shivani Vora, March 15, 2006. The article talked about an Indian food business called “Annadaata”, located in the Bay Area. They sell packed lunch and dinner boxes to busy, working professionals, primarily of Indian origin. Business has boomed recently since they were featured in The New York Times. The main page of the website announces this proudly and also provides a link to the article.

    I then moved onto the next page “about us”.
    http://www.annadaata.com/aboutus.htm

    They have a flash animation movie of different food shots on the left. The same 55 images play repeatedly on 3 other webpages. Now browse through my website, Spice Vice. I have a bunch of pictures on the site.
    http://www.spicevice.com/
    Do you see a similarity? Annadaata has been using 50 images from my site since 2004 (We looked up their archives). They’re selling food and the food they picture isn’t even theirs – its mine.
    I took down a large part of my website in 2004 as my images were turning up on lots of different sites. I retained 50 images on spicevice and added a copyright statement to each image. I hoped putting a copyright notice on the image itself would make people pause and think. Well, of course not. Annadaata.com has all 50 images from my site; they’ve cropped off the copyright text on each one of them.
    I called them up and made a simple request that they take down the images. That’s it. I’m not looking for compensation, not even an apology for stealing my work for 2 whole years – nothing. Mr. Kishan Sreedhar who answered the phone, besides being rude, refused to part with contact information for Kavita Srivathsan – a lady named as the owner of the company in the NY Times article. Insisting that I speak only to him, he got progressively angry and belligerent, claiming I was wasting his time and hence money, and that I couldn’t prove the pictures were mine. But I can. I have high-resolution images of each one. I also have the email I sent to Annadaata after this phone call, citing the conversation between Mr. Kishan Sreedhar and me, repeating that they simply take down my images.
    Not too much to ask I think. But most importantly, the evidence is right there on the websites to see. Each of my website pictures has a copyright line written onto it, along with my website address. Annadaata has cropped the copyright statement from each image and then looped it into the flash movie on their site.
    One email and one voice mail later, I am still waiting for a response. The pictures are still up on their website and they have stopped taking my phone calls. I am not averse to the occasional blogger or food enthusiast linking to my images. I would appreciate it if they took my permission and put in a link to my website. Just drop me a line. That’s all it takes. I’m not a bad person really, I believe in sharing. This however is a big, profit making business.
    A couple of people I’ve spoken to are of the opinion that these kinds of things are bound to happen, people will copy – I should be happy that ultimately I have the creativity and that’s what sets me apart. They cannot take that away from me. This attitude seems so completely fatalistic to me. Its like saying that unless the other person attacks and renders you mentally retarded or takes away a part of your brain so you cannot be creative anymore, anything they copy is fine.
    At least you have your creativity.
    So does it mean that I create more information, put it out there and just wait for someone to rip it off again? Then what? Create more data….? What happens when a customer looks up Indian food on Google and there are four websites with similar graphics, and the same food shots. Who’s copying whom? As a customer I would assume they’re all the same rehash of a cheap curry joint – no originality, even though one of them may have spent months generating those pictures from scratch. This can do irreparable damage to an honest company’s reputation.
    My company stands for a responsible, green, local, organic and sustainable business. Today I am forced to share my graphic data, that I created, for my website, with a company selling $5 lunch dabbas (boxes), with promotional stunts like “teen patti” (Indian version of poker) on their website and steals from me.
    It is not that Annadaata cannot afford to pay a professional to takes the pictures, or maybe even take the trouble and click some pictures on their own. The reason why businesses like Annadaata steal, is because its simple and because they can – they steal by choice. They choose to steal, making a conscious decision to do so, rather than generating the graphics or paying someone to do it for them. They’ll do anything to save or make a buck. And unless you are willing to pay big legal fees, it seems there are no consequences.
    What if we were to take a different approach? Instead of taking the legal course, we take it to the public. Post the evidence – the copied image and the original.
    I Steal by choice.com – an online forum against such offenders, a place where offending businesses can be seen and recognized for what they are. Where common people can comment on unjust practices by businesses.
    If money is all such businesses care about, the only thing that will deter them from such blatant stealing, is if it starts affecting their bottom line. One great review in the NY times has boosted sales tremendously for Annadaata. What happens if they get four bad reviews pointing out foul business practices? If customers start choosing not to support such businesses, they will not steal – because they dare not.
    If a business steals from me, I want the right to be able to call a thief, a thief…. as loud and clear as I can. I have nothing to hide or to be afraid of. I have every photograph I’ve clicked in the last 5 years. I have gigabytes of pictures. I have proof.

    All this frustration and injustice…. and all I asked is for them to take down my pictures from their website. That’s it.
    I’ve said my piece.
    THIEF !!

    Note : “I steal by choice.com” is a fictional website. If anyone knows of an online forum similar to the one described, please send me more information. I would like to post on that forum.
    Below are a series of screen shots of the original spicevice.com webpages and the copies on Annadaata.com.
    (The comments section does not allow me to paste pictures. But the proof can be seen on the website links included in the article).

    Thank you.
    Shalini Bhalla

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