During the lockdown period, a friend of Jyotsna Reddy requested her if she can prepare mango avakai (pickle). Quickly, Jyotsna checked with her mother if she can make the pickle and she happily agreed. After a few days, Jyotsna received more requests from other friends. When she started getting more orders, along with her family, Jyotsna launched a home-based venture named Upalas Kitchen that makes Andhra pickles, podis. "Pickles are something we stock up every year and usually, people get it from their mothers and grandmothers, who might be staying elsewhere. Because of the pandemic, many were unable to stock up pickles for the year. That’s where we came in. Upalas Kitchen follows my mother's and grandmother's traditional recipes for pickles and podis. We started with eight items on our menu. But every month, our customers started to ask for new ones and we kept adding new pickles and podis. Now, we have around 55 items. Both pickles and podis are made to order. We don't use any preservatives. Earlier, people don't fancy eating pickles. But now, many are sharing it. I have been observing the change in food preferences. People prefer homemade food with local ingredients," says Jyotsna Reddy.
Based in Sholinganallur, Upalas Kitchen is delivering all over Chennai. "Some of our favourite combos are raw garlic and cauliflower avakai with curd rice, mango avakai with hot rice and ghee. Another favourite is bellam avakai, a jaggery-based mango avakai. You can have it with hot rice-ghee or with rotis. It’s a sweet version of the classic avakai. It’s a north Andhra delicacy. Many crave and like to stock them up from the entire year. Nellikai bellam avakai is another most-demanded pickle. We use raw nellikai, so no nutrient is lost in the process. The pieces also stay crisp throughout. Normally, people fry and make pickles out of it. We always love it raw,” she shares.