The path-breaking journey of Delhi’s Punjabi Angithi

July 11, 2024

Here’s the story of a brand that sparked a veg revolution by bringing authentic Punjabi cuisine to food lovers with Swiggy’s support.

When you think of Punjabi cuisine, the first thought that usually comes to mind is the delectable butter chicken and a whole lot of other non-vegetarian dishes. But, Deepak Chadha was clear on one thing – people needed to know, taste, and experience the huge variety of vegetarian food that the cuisine offers. And there was one way he managed to do so — by starting his pure-veg restaurant, Punjabi Angithi in Delhi.

Established in 2014 with its first outlet in Paschim Vihar, West Delhi, Punjabi Angithi has grown massively in a decade. Today, the brand has expanded to 12 outlets serving a staggering 25 lakh customers annually across prominent areas of the National Capital Region including Delhi, Noida, and Gurugram, along with a new outlet in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. Impacting lives beyond just food, the brand also supports local artisans from humble backgrounds by using their handmade matkis or claypots as essential components of their packaging. Here’s the story behind it all.

Deepak Chadha and his team
Deepak Chadha and his team

Before entering the F&B space, Deepak was in the business of distributing power inverters and batteries across Delhi. He combined his business prowess with his passion for food to start a chain of restaurants. “Although I had no prior F&B experience, I have been a foodie all along. Digging deeper into my understanding of consumer needs and tastes, I observed that fresh and authentic food is always in demand. Bringing homely and freshly cooked food instead of frozen dishes to people, inspired me to start a food business, while also running my battery and power inverters business,” says Deepak, who has been the founder and CEO of Punjabi Angithi since 2014.

The brand name, ‘Punjabi Angithi’ carries its own story. Madhur Pawar, who assists Deepak and the team on the marketing and operational side of the business, says, “Deepak explored various regional cuisines in Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, and Chandigarh along with our head chef.”

“In villages across the state, food is cooked in angithis or vessels on an open fire. An epiphany struck Deepak one day, to simply name the brand that,” adds Madhur.

Starting out in a new industry was not easy for Deepak and the brand. “Even though we had a strong team and good marketing in place, we faced several challenges while fulfilling and delivering a high volume of food orders. Back then, we even had to deliver food, as platforms like Swiggy weren’t present yet. This resulted in some losses, and a temporary halt. However, over time, I applied my learnings more systematically and formed dedicated departments to manage operations. We soon reached a point where we were fulfilling large order volumes every day,” says Deepak, whose team has remained largely the same since the beginning.

With increasing popularity, the brand has brought a vegetarian revolution to Punjabi cuisine, especially in Delhi NCR. “Contrary to popular belief, the essence of real Punjabi cuisine is more veg than non-veg. A significant population of Punjab consists of vegetable farmers who don’t really eat non-vegetarian food. Our entire menu being vegetarian is a testimony to that,” says Madhur. 

Today, Punjabi Angithi is a mix of cloud kitchens and dine-in spaces. In addition to its food, Punjabi Angithi has become popular for packaging its food in traditional matkis. “Instead of going the industrial route, we identified a community of around ten small-business families in Delhi, who were skilled at designing claypots. Every day we receive nearly 1,000 claypots, which we use for packaging our main courses. Every matki is unique and keeps us grounded in our Punjabi roots. We are glad to be able to make a difference in the lives of these artisans,” adds Madhur.

Using matkis/claypots made by local artisans

Swiggy joins the revolutionary ride

It was around 2019 when Punjabi Angithi teamed up with Swiggy. The association unlocked the brand’s growth in multiple ways, especially during critical times. “Post-pandemic, business was slow, but Swiggy supported us through it all. Be it concessions on advertising, or suggestions about the progression in which we re-opened stores, Swiggy helped us bounce back,” says Madhur.

When Sanjit Singh, Swiggy’s Strategic Account Manager, took over Punjabi Angithi’s account, he had his sights set on the way forward. “First, we figured out innovative ways to grow the new outlets. Further, we strengthened the search-based model to allow easy discovery of existing outlets,” says Sanjit, who also helped the team with customised strategies based on their varied target groups.

A crowd-favourite at Punjabi Angithi

“We have frequent meetings, where we talk about what competitor brands are doing in the pure-veg space, along with comparing key data points and metrics to make better decisions,” adds Sanjit, who has been actively involved in suggesting menu additions such as combos and thalis within popular dishes, including North Indian, Indo-Chinese, Tandoori, and the brand’s special Kurkure-based snacks.

With time, Sanjit has succeeded in building a high level of trust and mutual understanding with both Deepak and Madhur. “I have the freedom to help engineer the menu and adopt new marketing routes. Both Deepak and Madhur have been very supportive throughout the journey,” adds Sanjit.

“Swiggy has been a constant support, providing us with seamless app-based and operational experiences. We also get a lot of data and information to understand what’s working well and what can be done better. The partnership has played a key role in bringing us to where we are today,” says Deepak.

The future holds exciting possibilities for the brand. “We are now exploring the possibility of opening up franchise-based branches in nearby areas including Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. We are also experimenting with our dine-in restaurant setup, and look forward to propelling this with Swiggy Dine Out. Gradually, we may even consider expanding the business abroad,” says Madhur.

As Punjabi Angithi fulfils its vision of becoming the leading destination for vegetarian food lovers across the country and beyond, here’s hoping that the brand keeps cooking up success with its authentic offerings.

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