Sep 13, 2022
Chitra Agrawal had no experience in CPG prior to launching Brooklyn Delhi in 2014. Nevertheless, she has built the brand of Indian-inspired pantry staples into an admired and profitable company that generates millions of dollars in annual revenue. As remarkable as those accomplishments might seem, they weren't goals when she started out.
The daughter of immigrants, Agrawal envisioned Brooklyn Delhi as a brand that could connect Americans to authentic Indian cuisine through products rooted in culture and designed for modern consumers.
The brand’s flagship product is achaar, a staple Indian condiment made from pickled ingredients and is often prepared spicy. Chitra developed her own recipe for achaar, one that eventually caught the attention of a Whole Foods global buyer and also meal kit company Blue Apron, both of which became key partners in the brand’s rise to national prominence.
Brooklyn Delhi has since expanded its product offerings to include simmer sauces like its Golden Coconut Curry Simmer Sauce and Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce, as well as condiments including Curry Ketchup, Curry Mustard, and Guntur Sannam Hot Sauce. The products are sold in natural and specialty retailers across the U.S., online and via foodservice.
In this episode, Agrawal spoke about her vision for achaar as a pantry staple in American homes, the influence of her popular blog in the early development of Brooklyn Delhi, why consumer education requires patience and how she leveraged the brand’s strengths to win over Whole Foods. She also explained why the company has no outside investors, why profitability has always been top of mind, creating favorable contracts with co-manufacturers and how an omni-channel sales strategy has benefited the company.
0:45: Chitra Agrawal, Founder & CEO, Brooklyn Delhi – Agrawal spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif about her recent transition from Brooklyn to the suburbs and the benefits of having a bigger kitchen and gave a primer on achaar and its versatility in cooking. She also explained why she is frustrated with Trader Joe’s, how she incorporated her personal story into the brand, why she didn’t pay herself a salary for the first four years of the business and how a remarkable meeting with a Whole Foods buyer changed the brand’s fortunes. Later, she discussed Brooklyn Delhi's partnership with Blue Apron, why she has been adamant about not taking outside capital and how thoughtful planning and ingredient sourcing is key to the company’s operational strategy.
Brands in this episode: Brooklyn Delhi