Q49 Flavours: Wholesome Curries in a Jiffy for Busy Dreamchasers

Chana with the special homemade taste

Q49 Flavours, curated and managed by Renu Kurian from Chennai with ample support from her family, is a story of how a mother’s love has been packaged into convenience curries with the taste of home food. A boon for busy families looking for quick, nutritious meals.

Renu and Kursan Kurian, the couple behind Q49 Flavours.
Renu and Kursan Kurian, the couple behind Q49 Flavours.

In-a-hurry Malabar Egg Curry, Easy-peasy Channa Masala and No-sweat Red Fish Curry all have something in common apart. They are all ready-to-cook curries from Q49 Flavours, a brand from Chennai. Renu Kurian, the master cook and curator of this range is keen to point out that though Q49 Flavours offers convenience, the range is made from the freshest of ingredients using the latest technology in food preservation. No artificial flavours or preservatives. “Just pick from our choice of wet masala bases, and cook it with your favourite protein. It could be chicken, paneer or chana. We have choices for both vegetarians and nonvegetarians. A hearty hot meal is ready for your family in minutes,” says Renu. 

Red Fish Curry Pack and Channa Masala
Red Fish Curry Pack and Channa Masala

A mother’s love

Renu Kurian was a homemaker for decades, happy cooking delicious meals for her family and assisting her husband, Kursan Kurian in his Investment Securities business. Their son and daughter were away from home in Canada and the US respectively. The couple were looking forward to a peaceful retirement when her skills in the kitchen opened up a whole new chapter in their lives. Both children were yearning for homemade food and to ease things out for them, Renu started making curries that they could store and use. “I prepared the curries in such a way that  they could enjoy piping hot meals with a feel of home, with minimum fuss. They deserve it after a hard day’s work chasing their dreams,” shares Renu.

Chana with the special homemade taste
Chana with the special homemade taste

Going commercial

Her daughter Shana Kurian nee Cherian, found this convenience a blessing especially as she was hard pressed for time. “Shana was studying and caring for her baby. At the end of a long day these quick meal options made a world of difference in keeping her life balanced. Having experienced this she kept pushing me to make it a commercial enterprise as she felt more people could benefit from such a convenience. In fact, she was the one who created the content and designed the packs for Q49 Flavours,” explains Renu. She also sought her husband’s help to set up the business. 

Taste and technology

They started experimenting on manufacturing the products in 2009 and while the recipes were ready there were many things to put in place to go commercial. One of them main challenges was finding the right technology which would retain the original taste while ensuring a long shelf life. After much research they zeroed in on Retort Technology. This is a popular and safe processing method that uses heat and pressure to sterlise the food without affecting its nutrition and taste. It rids it of microorganisms and extends the product’s shelf life. But the machinery comes at a huge cost and the process is complex. So they decided to outsource the manufacturing to a company in Kochi. 

Effortless Biryani with Q49 ready to cook paste
Effortless Biryani with Q49 ready to cook paste

Striving for authenticity

“I was very particular about the auntheticity of the taste,”says Renu. “Retort technology carmelises the contents which result in a sweeter taste. I would get samples from Kochi and keep pushing them to match the original taste. It happened a minimum of ten times for each product and sometimes went up to over 25! Making the taste homemade was the real reason for creating the product, so we couldn’t compromise on this,” she says. “And the ingredients are not dehydrated or powered like other brands do. Every curry is made like we cook at home. For instance we don’t use pureed tomatoes but blanched ones to make methi paneer,” she assures.

A legacy of hospitality

The name Q49 Flavours is intriguing to say the least. It goes back to Renu’s mother in law who lived at this address in Chennai. “She was known for her warm hospitality and enjoyed treating guests to sumptuous spreads,” shares Renu fondly. Family and friends were always welcome home and were treated to delicious food. Naturally our home is loved for this warmth and goodness and this seemed a great reason to choose the name,” shares Renu. 

The iconic home synonymous with warm hospitality and good food and also the inspiration behind the brand name.
The iconic home synonymous with warm hospitality and good food and also the inspiration behind the brand name.

The last mile

Just when they were preparing for a launch, Covid lockdowns forced them to try harder to get things on track. “Getting the packaging printed for instance was so difficult as the printers were closed and we couldn’t move around. Getting proofs, checking and ensuring they matched the design and colours my daughter had created took much longer.  And then finally we were ready! then came the marketing aspect. Initially they felt having good products was enough to get the customers in but as the days went by we realised that marketing was a crucial component if we needed to succeed at this!” 

Mastering new skills

For this couple who had been looking forward to retirement, managing new age media proved to be another uphill task. They had to start learning about Insta and Facebook posts, audience profiling and SEO. “While I leant heavily on my husband to get the business up and running when it came to marketing he flatly refused saying,”I don’t know!” laughs Renu. So she started started feeling her way through digital marketing. Through their joint effort on the manufacturing and marketing front, the brand started selling. 

Convenience for customers

Q49 Flavours was popularised through pop-ups and they started retailing through their website, which once again was designed by Shana. The feedback was very favourable. “Customer testimonials have been awesome. Some people pick up 70 to 80 packs before visiting their children living away from home! We retail in Chennai and Kochi in specialised stores like JK Cheese and more,” shares Renu. “It’s all about convenience which explains our product names –  Hassle-free Chicken, Laid-back Vindaloo, Just-in-time Creamy Grilled Fish…You get the idea,” she laughs. 

So are they looking at investors to expand further? “No, we’re not,” says Renu firmly. “We were heading to retirement and we’ve already invested a lot of money from our end. It’s like a bottomless pit when we factor in marketing. So while it’s very satisfying to be able to make wholesome homemade meals possible for so many busy families, we are content with where we are,” beams Renu.

Website: q49.in

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