A new Chicago startup is hoping to break into the meal delivery space with a service that brings authentic Indian cuisines straight to your door.
The Cumin Club, founded by Ragoth Bala in April, offers five different cuisines that all originate from different parts of India. The meal plan offers cuisines from Chennai, Punjab, Hyderabad, Delhi and Mumbai. Meals range from kofta curry, a meatball dish with several spices, to chana masala, a spicy chickpea dish.
The startup, which says its meal only take 5 minutes to prepare, has delivered more than 2,000 meals since launching.
Each order must contain at least 10 dishes, which start at $5 per dish. Customers can sign up for weekly and monthly meal plan delivery schedules. Once an order is placed, Bala said meals are delivered within a week of preparation on Mondays and Tuesdays. The shipping cost is already built in to the cost of each meal, Bala said.
To keep each meal fresh, The Cumin Club uses food dehydration and vacuum seals all of its packaging. The Cumin Club says it uses all-natural ingredients that are sourced locally in India. The meals also don’t contain any preservatives. Shelf-life of the meals range from five to 20 weeks.
The meals are prepared by chefs across India that are on-boarded by The Cumin Club. The chefs are vetted for hygiene standards and government certifications to ensure their food is safe.
Bala, who recently graduated with an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, got the idea for The Cumin Club after having a hard time finding vegetarian or Indian-inspired dishes from other meal kit delivery companies, such as Home Chef or Blue Apron.
“The one problem I had with meal plans was the vegetarian options were very limited,” said Bala, who grew up in India. “And coming from India, one finding Indian food is harder in general.”
Before launching The Cumin Club, Bala’s parents were sending him prepared dishes directly from India, where they still live.
Though The Cumin Club is offering a niche cuisine, it is entering an industry that is getting increasingly competitive. Chicago-based Home Chef is one of the market’s biggest player and was acquired by Kroger last year in a deal worth up to $700 million.
But other meal kit delivery companies are downsizing or have shut down. Blue Apron’s stock has plummeted since it went public in 2017, with a market cap today around $95 million. It had raised around $200 million in venture capital, and was valued at just under $2 billion in its last round of private financing.