By Hand From The Heart: One Show, Many Stories!

By Hand From The Heart is a curated makers market event in Chennai, South India. UPCOMING EVENT: 24th – 25th, AUGUST, CROWNE PLAZA, CHENNAI

Meet The Maker: Sowmya Skandan and Vidya Balaje, Pickled Pumpkin, Chennai

Meet the foodpreneurs, Sowmya Skandan and Vidya Balaje of Pickled Pumpkin – meal planners catering to Chennai’s health conscious foodies, who enjoy nutritious and flavorsome balanced meals, delivered at their door step on pre-order.


A bit about yourself. Do you have a food background? 

Sowmya Skandan – I am a molecular pathologist by education but I am total foodie. With a mom in nutrition and dietetics background and family that has been obsessed with an active lifestyle, food had been a very important part of my life.

Vidya –  was a national level volleyball player with a degree in Computers. Vidya’s personal experiences with food and nutrition for sports and after her baby with thyroid issues has made her very passionate about eating healthy. She understands that weight-loss is a struggle for lot of us with underlying health issues and believes that its sustained balanced eating that will payout in the end

Pickled Pumpkin Presskit 2.jpg

What is the concept & purpose of your meal subscription business?

The idea behind Pickled Pumpkin was born one evening when our family was sitting together and debating about eating healthy and tasty food. My sister Swetha and I have been living away from home for a while now and we realised that getting healthy and tasty food was always a challenge but somehow our mom has always managed to execute that at home. We realised that a lot of people resort to diet meals and diet food without really being satisfied with it because the market never put healthy and tasty together. This is also the reason why almost all diets are not sustainable.  So we figured that there is a big market for healthy food that is tasty.

Subscription is something we advocate because the effects of eating healthy and of portion control cannot be felt with one meal. We need to eat healthy for a few days before we see its impact on a system. That being said we also offer 30 days of no repeats in our menu. So a subscription also helps you understand and experience the choices you have.


Subscription to door delivery. What’s involved? 

It’s very simple. Call us or go to our website and fill out a simple form for your meal*. You can do single orders initially till you get comfortable with our food. We will then get in touch with you to confirm your meal plan and make note of any customisations to address allergy or diet concerns. You then just have to sit back, relax and wait for the food to come to you J You can pay online or do COD. We make eating healthy easy.

*At present we close the lunch orders by 8 p.m the previous day and dinner orders by 2 p.m the same day.


Describe a typical work day at Pickled Pumpkin.

A typical work day is split equally between time in the kitchen and time for marketing for both Vidya and me. One of us goes to the kitchen to do quality control of the food while the other works on the back-end confirming orders and mapping delivery for the first part of the day. Our afternoons are usually spent on sales and innovating with the menu and coming up with new meal plans. We currently do a regular balanced meals and high protein meals. We are now coming up a geriatric meal plan and a gluten-free meal plan while working on tweaking our high protein meal to include snacks.


Your kitchen & work space.

A simple and neat work-space with a lot of positive energy. We have a team of experts and young professionals who help us understand the best practices and innovate on a daily basis.

Tell us about your showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.

We have worked to give a healthy twist to finger food. These samplers that typically don’t come off as healthy in the first look but we have made small modifications to make them healthy. This is how almost our meals have been designed. We believe the trick to healthy food lies in what goes in your food and how it is made.


What’s your favourite pick with Pickled Pumpkin?

I personally love the salads and the Mexican meals. Vidya loves the millet meals and our wraps.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way in building your business? 

If you follow your gut and believe in what you do you cannot fail.

Your advice for aspiring food entrepreneurs?

Food scene is tough. Be prepared to work long hours and don’t give up . Take things slow, get your hands dirty and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

About Chennai.

Chennai is synonymous with home, family, culture and good food! Love Namma Chennai.

 At the Makers Market exhibition in Chennai this October, meet the maker!



By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – Festival Special – 19th Edition
Date: Friday – Saturday, 7th – 8th October, 2016
Time: 10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Venue: Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
Address: 132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India

LINKS: 19th Edition Makers Market Event Page | Facebook|Instagram|Twitter |Blog


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