08 December 2019

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Balbina Pinto: India's Culinary Ambassador...!

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One of the famous English adages says that The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Now, Ms. Balbina Pinto, the founder of Konkan Spices & CurryMakers, Mumbai, proves that this adage can be slightly modified and can be made to The way to people’s heart is through the right mix of spices and herbs...!

Balbina Pinto in an exclusive interview with Krishnakumar C K, Editor, Small Enterprise India.com, shares her success story.

Balbina today heads the Research and Development division of Konkan Spices & CurryMakers which has a database of more than 250 products. The brand name KSC came into existence in the year 2000, when KSC was trademarked. The product was ground at home, blended, packaged and delivered DTH (direct to home) of the client.

Balbina is a Home Science Graduate from Nirmala Niketan, Mumbai. Like every newly married woman, she too moved into her husband’s household armed with numerous recipes and recipe books, confident that can tackle the day to day meals by referring to them. But  she realised the hard fact quickly that it was a disaster.

At that moment, her supportive Husband, Mr. Syydney Pinto who was in the Merchant Navy, came to her rescue. He simply asked her to “Go back to your books and recall what you were taught at Nirmala Niketan College, believe in yourself and soon you will be a Numero-Uno Cook”. Those words did not go in vain. Now Balbina takes extreme pride in saying that it was those simple words that made a big difference in their lives.

She recalls that she did what her husband had adviced, and delved into learning more and more about spices and herbs. She mastered the behavioural pattern of practically all spices, condiments and culinary herbs and shocked all around her by converting complicated and tedious food preparations that needed wet grinding into simple hassle free spice blends and mixes, thus simplifying cooking.
Balbina does not want to look upon at spices and herbs as something that compliments the cooking.  “Spices, Herbs and Condiments are like people in a group, each with their own personality. Simply mixing or blending them without identifying their personalities can be disastrous”, says Balbina.

Her husband Mr. Sydney Pinto realised that her research over spices and herbs was an innovative concept which could be introduced to the housewives and the food services industry. He identified that this has got a huge business potential. Balbina says that her husband has always been a great source of inspiration and encouragement in her path towards all the achievements.
Balbina’s popularity grew tremendously,  and began visiting the libraries of Hotel Management and Catering colleges, interacted with professors and budding chefs discussed her findings with culinary professors who too were fascinated by her knowledge and expertise.

Now some of India’s best known Chef’s and Culinary Professors use her mixes to make their life easy today.
Balbina is today backed up by her husband Mr. Sydney Pinto (An Electronic Engineer) and Mr. Eric Rodrigues (A Commerce Graduate) who make a formidable core team, who take care of everything from sourcing, manufacture, packaging designs, to logistics etc.

She caters to Creation, Development, and Customisation of products like Seasonings, Marinades, Spice Rubs, Mixes, Spice Blends, Sprinklers, Mixes for Sauces, and also ‘Ready to Cook’, ‘Apply and Fry’ are her unique innovations.. Currently working on Nutritious products for “under-privileged children” - that is providing simple government initiated mid-day meals for school going children all over Maharashtra wherein the end user will only add water, bring to a boil and serve (wholesome) meals.

Excerpts from the interview:

1.What exactly inspired you to come with the idea of starting this venture?

I personally found that the Spice Blends available in the market were not giving the desired results and were of a very poor quality. My research revealed that the products contained fillers (cheap vegetative additives which are not easy to detect) and poor quality spices which certainly will pose health problems in the long run. This ignited a desire in me to give the world a healthy and pure product which culminated in me starting this venture.

2. What are the core values behind KSC?

Quality, Purity, Consistency and Full value for money. KSC gives you complete blends where you don’t need to use any more additional spices from your kitchen. We don’t tell the end user to add cardamom or cloves or turmeric even chilly powder from your kitchen. Result – Hassle free spice blends (masalas).

3. How was the journey of KSC from inception? What were the major challenges that you have faced?

The journey was rough and bumpy. Since our set-up was impeccably hygienic we had absolutely no problems getting the necessary certifications.

Our major challenges were finance: Although there are several schemes available to women entrepreneurs in place we did not get any help from this. My husband had to invest his entire 
savings into this venture.We had to walk back on the quality of life we lived by sacrificing the luxuries of life but all these sacrifices are paying off today, with the world understanding what we have to offer and how fillers dilute products and make them cheaper.

As early as year 2000 we told the Chef’s about Aflatoxin and Sudan colours in our food and how harmful they are. The people we have met have understood the ill effects and are careful today, but the health authorities are yet to wake up – perhaps they may ultimately wake up when the damage is irreparably done to a whole generation of Indians.

4. What is your tryst with the fusion foods? What are the major developments in this area?

We call it Tryst with Taste buds. In India we are the Pioneers – We picked on western and oriental foods and gave it the needed twist to appease the Indian Taste buds. Today it has become a trend.

The Meat and Fish Markets of various Hypermarkets are thriving because we gave the idea of value added products. Our developments have totally eased their operations – now all they do is Take our Fusion Foods Mix – add water and turn it into a paste – apply to the chicken / fish / meat – put into trays – shrink wrap – weigh – Price it – Sell.

5. What is the speciality of customised food blends?

It gives the desired taste which the client is looking out for- Our Customised products are used in industrial canteens & banquets. This is our forte.

6. What are KSC’s expansion plans and plans for going Global?

By April 2011 KSC plans to reach out to the “Aam Aadmi” by reaching out to the rural areas through small one time use sachets. We have plans to establish a large unit HACCP / KOSHER / HALAL: compliant to cater to the USA, European, Middle East and East Asia. Our products are currently available in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

7. What are the major awards that KSC Bagged?

KSC has consistently won several awards and Balbina’s work has earned numerous felicitations too:

1. Best Product developed by an Indian in the State of Maharashtra–2003
2. International Achievers Award for Quality Excellence – 2009
3. Indian Achievers Award for Industrial Development – 2008
4. International Award “Leader in Prestige and Quality 2008”
6. 'QUALITY BRANDS INDIA - 2010 - 2012'.

8. Can you please mention who your esteemed clientele are?

  1. Sodexo - PanIndia
  2. Yummy Dogs – PanIndia
  3. Royal T Industrial Caterers – Goa
  4. 49’ers Gourmet Banquets – Goa
  5. Oakwood Residency – Pune
  6. Ahimsa Soya Foods – New Delhi
  7. French Bake House – Sydney, Australia
  8. Navteza NZ Ltd, Auckland New Zealand
  9. AidaAura Luxury Cruise Liner – Germany
  10. Hypercity – PanIndia

9. What is your message towards the entrepreneurs in India?

At every stage an entrepreneur will encounter speed breakers; these should not deter your movement but actually strengthen your zest to achieve your goal. Along your path you will also come across people who will discourage you – bankers will harass you – staff could drive you up against a wall, but one must stay focussed and figure out ways and means to tide over short term set-backs. Remember the word IMPOSSIBLE should never deter you, just tell the world I aM (going to make it) POSSIBLE.






0 #1 luigi4235 2015-02-21 19:23

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