When the pandemic struck in 2020 and so many of us were busy cooking, aunt-niece duo Usha Sarvaraylu and Neha Alluri began scouring family recipes to add to the repertoire of pickles and sprinkles that were made for friends and extended family. This soon took the form of a business, and The Manduva Project took root as a brand under Unigourmet, a company that Usha and Neha founded.
By bringing the focus back to foods that represent regional cuisine, the organization aims to convey the power of documenting recipes and stories, largely lacking in several cuisines in the Indian subcontinent. At Unigourmet’s processing sites, age-old steps exercised by mothers and grandmothers become guidelines—from sun-drying crisps to hand pounding spices.
With the intent to support agrarian livelihoods, the brand sources ingredients from several farmers, which are processed in Andhra Pradesh’s Annadeverapeta and Uppalametta. The staff on these sites and those who form the team that handles operations are all women.
Why We Love The Manduva Project
- Preserving traditional culinary practices – In sun-drying and hand-pounding ingredients, the brand uses traditional methods of processing and revives authentic Andhra recipes.
- Tapping into nostalgia – The brand’s design elements represent a humble courtyard of a Telugu household with a saree-clad woman bringing in hot food. Kindling nostalgia and appreciation for the homemade, and serving it up to a wide consumer base makes The Manduva Project stand out. The traditional sago crisps, with their melt-on-your-tongue texture and mild aromatic spices, are a perfect example.
- Women-driven business – From the processing site staff to the management, the entire set-up is driven by women, not to mention the founders.
Why are traditional recipes and culinary practices at the forefront of your organisation?
“We believe traditional recipes and age-old ways of food processing are fading away. With older generations passing on and increasing migration of newer generations to urban areas and abroad in search of economic opportunities and the chance at a better, ‘cooler’ life, culinary heritage is dying. Food palates are evolving at lightning speed. We want The Manduva Project to bridge the old and new, the dying and the ever-evolving. We want to revive the irreplaceable simplicity that defined our childhoods.”
— Neha Alluri, Co-founder, The Manduva Project
The Locavore Bite
TL Bite offers a glimpse into how a partner producer runs their operations, and reflects their core principles and values. The idea is to provide insights into their practices and highlight their positive efforts descriptively. We have identified seven key areas of assessment – origin and source of ingredients, composition and integrity of the products, workforce policies, production practices, community-related initiatives, approach towards preserving or celebrating traditional knowledge and the materials used in packaging. While this assessment may not be entirely comprehensive, we hope it helps you make an informed decision about why you might want to support them, and the ways in which to.
The information below offers you a snapshot of where The Manduva Project stands on these parameters. We have put this together based on several rounds of conversation with Neha Alluri, Co-founder of The Manduva Project. Click on a piece of the pie below to find out more.
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If you would like to learn more about The Manduva Project, or try their products, check out their website. If you’re interested in supporting them in other ways, please contact us at email@example.com.
This is a paid partnership with The Manduva Project. We strive to keep the practices of a producer transparent and honest across all forms of partnerships.