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Mistress of spices

Kunal Roy |

The streets of Jodhpur are captivating. As one treads them, the victory songs of Rao Jodha of Mehrangarh reverberates in heart and mind. But, with the passage of time, the streets and the markets near the Old Clock Tower narrate many novel tales. One such story is of Kavita Gehani, a young entrepreneur who runs a shop of specially prepared herbs and spices along with her mother and six sisters.

The shop, established by her father, Mohanlal Gehani in the year 1994, is also the preferred choice of the Royal palace when it comes to feasts and festivals. With a uniqueness and blend of various spices collected and bought from South Indian states, the shop stands different from all. Young Kavita stands at the gate of her shop and politely requests the visitors to come and have tea in her shop and then the tea (specially blended with rose, mint, ginger and other secret ingredients, which she refuses to disclose) does all the magic.

Showcasing her collection of spices and herbs, Kavita says, "My father was a very kind man. He started his business with a cart. One day, he invited a tourist for lunch. My mother prepared a special curry with a blend of 25 various spices, which left the guest mesmerised. He suggested my father to open his own shop and rest is all evident."

Spice list

The spices are collected from all over the India. Kavit, her mother and her sisters prepare the blend with bare hands to maintain the purity and the natural essence. The Maharaja masala (made with over 25 different spices), the wine masala (prepared with clove, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and other herbs) and a varied range of tea leaves are the major attractions of the shop.

Asked about the wine masala, Kavita narrates, "Whenever we caught fever and cold, my grandmother used to give us a sip of brandy spiced up with medicinal herbs. Later, my mother used all the ingredients to prepare a special masala for liquor (wine preferred), which helps to cure diseases but also enhances the taste of the wine."

Having a successful business in the busy streets of Jodhpur was never a easy task for the seven sisters. Where maintaining the originality, purity and essence of the spices is a greater challenge, the hardships faced by female entrepreneurs in our country worsen the situation. "Most of the vendors copy our business," elaborated Kavita. "They scold and harass us when their customers enter our shop. Sometimes we get stalked by strangers on the streets, they abuse us and make round on bikes. This has been tough for us. Our father died 12 years ago, since then we took up our business and reached new heights. Yes, there are challenges but the love and respect that we get from our customers are the only reason that we stand tall and different."

Sipping the masala chai prepared by Kavita, Pauli from the US said, "I am in love with the spices and the flavours. These are the actual flavours that we look for in India. I love all the spices, especially the tea. The originality is the only quality why we are here in this shop."

Kavita and her sisters, who run a chain of MV spices in Jodhpur, are a source of inspiration for young entrepreneurs. With their courage, dedication and impeccable marketing skills, the sisters have come a long way. Their story is exactly like their spices: unique, original, colourful and a little secretive too.