TNM set out on an expedition in Bengaluru to understand how much it costs a chaatwala to make one plate of chaat.

Watch The economics of chaat the hors doeuvre of Indian snacks
news Economics Wednesday, January 02, 2019 - 17:55

Chaats and Indians are arguably inseparable. They are like the hors-d'oeuvre of Indian snacks. One small plate of chaat, made with an impressive sleight of hand in less than a minute, consists of a wide range of ingredients: onions, tomatoes, potatoes, chickpeas and lots of masala powders. But have you wondered what it would be like to own a chaat shop? What are the challenges faced by the hundreds of chaatwalas across Bengaluru?

At TNM, we had those same questions as well. And so, we set out on a ‘chaat expedition’ through the city to find out the economics of chaat.

The journey started with Bisweshvar Shyam, who has been running a chaat stall in Indiranagar for 20 years. His speciality items include Pani Puri, Masala Puri, Dahi Puri, Sev Puri, Banaras Chaat, Tiranga Chaat, Disco Chaat and Indian Chaat. To make these dishes, he needs onions, tomatoes, potato, maida, gram flour and tamarind, all of which cost around Rs 1,000. Butter, being a prime ingredient in many of his special chaats, costs him Rs 500 per day for 1 kg to 2 kg.

Bisweshvar also uses a 19 kg-gas cylinder that costs about Rs 1,400, which lasts for 10 days. Other expenses include water.

In the chaat business, though, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact daily expenses. For example, since Saturdays and Sundays tend to see more customers, Bisweshvar's weekend expenses increase. Additionally, he pays extra to the Corporation and the police to keep his shop running. With 70 to 100 customers a day, Bisweshvar estimates his daily expenses are about Rs 1,500 to 1,600.

Similarly, Anshul Singh from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, runs a chaat shop in Indiranagar and sells Pani Puri, Samosa Chaat, Dahi Puri and Sev Puri. For Anshul, saving profits from his daily incomes becomes challenging because of the fluctuating prices of vegetables. His main expenses are onions, potatoes, gas, bread, chickpea flour. He sells his chaat at Rs 15 to Rs 25. With 2,000 customers a day, his daily expenses are Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,500.

Finally, TNM spoke to Suresh in Cambridge Layout, who makes Dahi Puri, Masala Puri, Pani Puri and Samosas. He starts his day at 11 am and often goes till 10 pm. “I have to sell at least 100 plates a day to have a profit left over for the day,” he says.

His main expenses are gas, onions, carrot, chillies, masalas, puffed rice and other condiments. With his expenses reaching Rs 2,000, he’s able to make a profit of Rs 10,000 a month, he says.

Watch the video to know more:

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