Origins of The Cumin Club
It was almost 10 pm and the walk home felt unusually long. It was a long day - I was at work from 9 to 5 and at business school from 6 to 9. I was exhausted and hungry. I was craving Indian food.
I fired up Uber Eats, searched for Indian food, and secretly hoped that I would find a new Indian restaurant. Chicago's Indian-food scene is notoriously bad. I got disappointed (again!), put my phone away, and continued walking.
A deep craving for comfort food is just a basic human instinct. We've all probably been there, right?
When I got home, I found a sliver of hope in a package my mom had sent me from India. She had mentioned something about easy-to-make Indian meals over the phone and I just told myself "how good could they be?". We've all tried those cardboard-boxed meals, that only taste a wee-bit better than the cardboard boxes they come in (okay, that's an exaggeration, guilty!). I could never make peace with the fact that what's in the cardboard box was made several months ago. No artificial preservatives? Maybe. No natural preservatives? No way, I don't buy that. And, that's a deal breaker for me.
The journey of a typical Indian ready-to-eat cardboard-box meal is insanely long. From the brand's co-packer, to the brand's warehouses, to the exporter, to the US importer, to the retailer, to the store shelves, to your shelves, the journey likely takes a few months to reach your plate. Those poor things deserve to be cozied up in preservatives, but it's just extremely harmful for you and I.
For lack of options, I decided to try the package my mom had sent me. It was Jabiyam upma, a local delicacy from Coimbatore, my favorite meal growing up. Naturally, I got excited, but still skeptical - how could this be any different from those cardboard-box meals?
Well, it was absolutely different!
Two spoons in, I knew I had struck gold. The sense of satisfaction was overwhelming. For starters, there was no traces of preservatives (because it was made differently, more on that here), and to top it all, it almost matched my mom's recipe.
I wondered what else could be prepared the way that upma was prepared? Turns out a lot of them - pohas, kichdis, pongals, bisibelabaths, the list goes on. I convinced my mom to source them all and send them to me. Life was good.
I happily indulged in these delicacies for a month (for almost every meal), before I took a step back to check if this is good for my wallet. It's insane that all my meals are delivered from India, right?
Well, it wasn't expensive at all!
I had averaged significantly lower than what it would cost for me to eat out or buy groceries and make all my meals. To put it simply, it was cheaper than any meal I have ever had in the US.
I just couldn't keep all this goodness to myself. I told my cousins, friends, and classmates, and they were all quite impressed as well. I eventually graduated from the business school and decided to start The Cumin Club - to make sure every Non Resident Indian (or, Non Resident Alien, as the draconian USCIS puts it) around the world has a good Indian meal, from an Indian city of his/her choice, spending just five minutes preparing it.
The next best thing to having breakfast in your hometown is having breakfast from your hometown.
So, welcome to the club my friend. You are never too far from home, when you are a member of The Cumin Club. I hope you will give us a chance to impress you.
P.S: All our meal plans are listed here.