The idea for Naksha took shape when Nisha and Sam heard a radio advert about Spinneys (the top UAE supermarket chain) launching a local business incubator programme designed to accelerate the journey of creative homegrown food startups onto shelves. They entered almost on a whim but, due to the strength of their passion and uniqueness of the concept, went on to win.
“During the pandemic Sam and I spent a lot of time cooking at home as we sought to travel the world through the medium of food”, explains Nisha. “Ingredient authenticity sat at the very heart of our foodie vision, which meant we ended up spending a small fortune purchasing specialist ingredients that were usually only available in bulk. This was the moment we started to envisage a range of perfectly proportioned recipe kits with diligently measured portions of gourmet ingredients.’
Nisha and Sam didn’t invent the concept of a recipe kit, but its fair to say that in the UK, before Naksha burst onto the scene, the category was dominated more by less imaginative ‘comfort food’ formats as opposed to thoughtfully curated recipes with rich origin stories and beautiful design.
Nisha continues: “It frustrated us that incumbent recipe kits insisted on playing things safe with generic recipes drawn from familiar mainstream cuisines. I knew that our proposition had legs when I began posting recipes on Instagram only to be inundated by messages from friends asking for the cooked recipes to be sent to them. Clearly, we had neither the time or the inclination to mass cook the dishes, but we were prepared to portion up the expensive leftover ingredients and distribute to friends and family so that they wouldn’t go to waste.’
Above all, Nisha and Sam sought to prove that simplicity and convenience is compatible with premium-look-and-feel products that have a gastronomic wow-factor!
Sam points out that although many people want to cook more frequently, they struggle to keep their menus varied. “Many of the more enticing and adventurous cuisines are wrongly perceived to be either too complex, time-consuming, expensive or wasteful to cook at home”, he argues. “Naksha dismantles this dogma by curating recipes accessible, user-friendly kits which ordinary consumers can pick up at their convenience from supermarket shelves”.’
Customer favourites include Jamaican Curried Goat, Lemak Cili Padi (a creamy Malay-style curry from Singapore), Ropa Vieja (Cuba’s iconic yet little-known national dish) and milk chocolate blondies made with sumptuous Lebanese tahini.
Another classy touch is the way Naksha works with established and emerging chefs from the regions in question. These chefs help interpret and modernise traditional recipes, using the products as a canvas to express national identity through contemporary home-cooking. Naksha’s Singapore Collection, for example, was a collaboration with Haikal Johari, head chef at Singapore’s Michelin-starred Alma restaurant.
Although London is now home, Dubai was the perfect hothouse in which to develop and fine-tune the Naksha vision. “The UAE food and beverage market is lively and highly competitive, and being listed in Spinneys and Waitrose forced us to rapidly build an operational structure” says Nisha. “That said, we estimate the addressable market for our product in the UK to be up to twenty times. The UK is the ideal springboard for our plans to scale.”
Naksha manufacturing takes place in Derbyshire, while the company is also part of the London School of Economics’s prestigious ‘LSE Generate’ Accelerator programme, which even went so far as to back Nisha’s innovator visa.
‘Early doors’ listings in Whole Foods Market, John Lewis, and Harrods reaffirmed Nisha and Sam’s belief that the UK is increasingly receptive to home cooking and World Cuisine with a premium twist. Throw in the fact that Naksha’s baking recipe kits promise to revolutionise the home bake category, and its clear to see that Naksha is raising the bar for a meal kit category that has historically played things safe.
Read more at LONDON DAILY NEWS