A dream to make available Goan flavours around the globe; Chanekar Classics from Bicholim brings to your plate authentic Goan snacks and spices.
By Ankitha Joseph
It all began in the 1940s when Rajaram Chanekar laid the foundation to Chanekar Classics, which was then called as ‘Rajyale Khaaje’ in Bicholim. What began as an initiative by a young enthusiastic entrepreneur has today won the taste buds of many with their Goan delicacies. Rajaram Chanekar’s plan comprised of authentic Goan snacks which remained seasonal. Later, in the 1980s his son Sitaram Chanekar, the only earner of the family, extended the product line with Chanekar Classics Masalas. All the masala recipes came from Sitaram Chanekar and his wife and soon became a favourite of many in the town.
Passing on the true taste of Goaness, the third generation and son of Sitaram Chanekar, Rajaram Chanekar took over in August 2015. A mechanical engineer by profession, Rajaram has worked previously with the Salgaocars and has also worked in countries like Malaysia and Singapore. When his father suffered a stroke, he realized that it was time to leave his job and join the family business. Applying his expertise in the field of management, Rajaram looks forward to mechanize and professionalize the functioning of this brand. “I am trying to maintain a link between the traditional ways and the professional execution that will help in the development of this product,” says Rajaram. His vision is to maintain the authenticity and the Goan flavours in the products and watch it grow in the state and across the country.
Meeting the quality parameters, Chanekar Classics presently offers a wide range of Goan products to all its customers which include Goan Shev, varieties of laddus, chivdas, barfis, Goan chakri, Rhombus biscuits, churma and khaaje. Khaaje which is generally found only at Zatras (feasts) is made available at Chanekar Classics throughout the year. Products such as ginger barfi is an exclusive preparation of Chanekar Classics. Rajaram introduces a new product every month for his customers. One such product to hit the market soon is the Goan papad. “The uniqueness of our products is that we don’t use any additives. Whatever we prepare, the shelf life of the product will be not more than two or three months. Using the best quality raw materials help increase the shelf life of the products. I travel to other places to get raw materials and do not settle for anything less. For example, if I want jaggery, I source it from Kolhapur. Even for the papads, the daal used is from Belgaum or Kolhapur.”
The authenticity does not limit itself just to the products but to the team as well. The brand has a permanent team of 25 members, all hailing from Goa, who work towards delivering quality results to its customers. Rajaram’s wife Pammi Chanekar plays an important role as part of the team as well, as she is the one who manages production. What stands distinctive about the brand is also the technique used. Before powdering, the raw supplies are first roasted; unlike others who use gas, Chanekar preserves their heritage by using firewood. “Firewood helps in enhancing the taste of the snack. If you prepare the same item on gas, the taste varies. Here, the cost of production is slightly higher but then for impressive results and for people to like our product we do not compromise on authenticity.”
According to Rajaram, most of the Goan market has been invaded by non-Goans leading to a gap between the authentic Goan products and others in the market. He also says that earlier people used to prepare the same snacks and spices at home, but today no one has the time to do so; and most of them have forgotten the real taste. So it is better if the products are available in the market itself. Chanekar Classics supplies their products to many vendors across the State and the interesting fact is that they are all Goans. Their esteemed clients include Sahiraj in Old Goa, Kurtarkar stores at all its outlets in Valpoi, Mapusa, Ponda, and many more. Other than stores, Chanekar also supplies products to hotels and cafes like Vrundhavan Hotel in Mapusa, Mahadev Café in Ponda, Bhingis in Margao and Café Aram in Panjim. They are also known for taking large orders for special occasions. As of now, there aren’t any exclusive outlets of Chanekar Classics, but Rajaram mentions of his plans to start one in Bicholim, in the near future.
Though many make them aware of the increasing competition, Rajaram does not find it challenging – for his primary focus is quality. “If I maintain high standards of quality, competition is non-existent.”
He accredits his father, Sitaram Chanekar for the success and recognition that the brand has received today. “From the recipes, to the huge client base that we have, it is all his hard work. He is an expert in spices; when people ask for masalas, they prefer if he gives it rather than my workers. He is the main person behind Chanekar Classics.” Years of hard work that he has put in the establishment of the brand, makes Sitaram Chanekar an inspiration to his family.
Marketing is the only hurdle that Rajaram finds challenging. He has used radio as one of the mediums in the past and presently focuses on social media. “One needs to be well versed with what is trending around them in terms of technology.” Business Network International (BNI) is another platform that has helped the brand in reaching out to the masses. “At first I was skeptical about joining it, but now I am glad about the business that I am getting from the networking through BNI,” says Rajaram.
Chanekar Classics, along with its efficient and dedicated workforce, looks forward to build a brand that would stand out as a hallmark in Goa. With further refinements in packaging and branding, Rajaram hopes to reach out to the people nationally and internationally in the forthcoming years – and take the taste of authentic Goan snacks to them.