Wednesday Wisdom: Homemade Cuisine- Local Gluten Free Products
A while ago I was introduced to Homemade Cuisine, a family owned, Lahore based small scale business that provides locally produced gluten free products and offers home delivery too. Luckily, I tried some of their products and incorporated them in some of blog posts, Gluten Free Tiramisu, Black Forest Cheesecake (Baked in Microwave!) and How To Begin Gluten Free Journey Stage 5 to name a few. What I particular like about this brand is the way they deal with their customers… very polite, very prompt and very responsive. Later I came to know that they don’t have gluten allergy in their family and I was wondering why do have a gluten free product line then? This question in my mind pushed me to do something I have never done before… I asked them if I colud visit them and have a little chat for the blog post and they agreed to it. So this post is about that last week’s meet up.
By the way, this isn’t a paid advertisement or promotion. My aim here is to let people know that there are local options available which provide quality, taste and better bang for the buck!
I reached their home an hour later, (apologies for that, although I would equally blame the foggy weather for that) with my hubby and girls and met the heart and soul behind Homemade Cuisine, Mrs Sumaira Asif. Talking to her and seeing her efforts make you say Alhamdulillah that there are such amazing people around us who are selflessly working to make lives better.
She showed me her kitchen which is a dedicated area for gluten free food to make sure there are no chances of cross contamination, gave us a complimentary box of their trademark bakery items along with a freshly bake, straight from the oven, delicious pizza. Thank you so much for everything! P.S: Their bread is awesome.
Later we visited the outlet which sells their products along with imported gluten free products. We bought few items from the outlet too. I didn’t record this informal and light conversation and this is not a word to word kinda interview.
Me: How long have been making gluten free items?
Mrs Asif: We moved back from America in 2007 and I started to make doughnuts for a school cafetaria. In 2010 I started baking gluten free biscuits to help out a friend. As I interacted more with celiac and gluten allergic patients and became more aware of their requirements, Homemade Cuisine became exclusively gluten free to avoid any chance or fear of cross contamination by 2016.
Me: How did this begin? Since you don’t have any gluten allergy in your family what motivated you to make gluten free products?
Mrs Asif: A close friend of mine got a grant from the government to develop gluten free flour. She used to send me that flour and I used to bake cake rusk and assorted biscuits to be distributed among deserving children. I still do it and since it is for charity, it is being done at no profit cost. While doing this I realized there are so many people with special dietary requirements and they depend on imported items and obviously not all of us can afford such expensive food items. That motivated me to develop gluten free bakery items at reasonable cost and within a couple of years this became an exclusive gluten free venture.
Me: You use the same flour, that your friend has developed, for your products?
Mrs Asif: No. We were using Schar’s gluten free flour and after its recent shortage and price hike, we started using Dove Farm’s gluten free flour. Meanwhile I kept on thinking about backup as well and developed our own gluten free all purpose baking flour which is available for the customers. We have our own gluten free bread flour that we use to make bread and it will be launched soon. All our products are now prepared with Homemade Cuisine’s own flour as it has given better results than any imported flour plus it is cost effective for our clients.
Me: That is great! How was the experience?
Mrs Asif: Exhausting! This isn’t like buying bags of assorted gluten free flours, mix them and pack them. It is a lengthy and tedious process where we need to get each and every flour tested by PCSIR Lab (Pakistan council of Scientific and Industrial Research) then getting the right proportion of each flour for a perfect blend that could be used in baking.
Me: Who develops recipes? Your kitchen staff?
Mrs Asif: No, I do. Although I have trained staff to work in the kitchen but I can’t completely rely on them to do everything. I create recipes and get them approved. Usually my son does the tasting part and he has turned into a good food critique.
Me: That means your family is all involved in this business?
Mrs Asif: Not at all (laughing) Everyone in my family tells me that I don’t have to take this stress but this has become my passion. From purchasing the imported flours through their reps to creating recipes, I do it all. I import assorted gluten free products from England which are at our outlet. During the process of developing our own gluten free flour blend, I was even dreaming about flours in my sleep (laughing). My son, Sudais, helps me a lot. He is the only one involved and he is the one who took charge to expand the business with social media marketing, online communications and reaching out to big chains of grocery stores for product supply. He is the one running around to get things tested from the labs.
Me: How is your experience with customers?
Mrs Asif: Most of my permanent clients are purchasing from us for years now. Most people appreciate and encourage us a lot. Some clients are based abroad. You see some bakery items, like bakar khani, cake rusk, can only be found in Pakistan. But some people are very apprehensive about local products and keep on raising strange objections and always ask for imported products no matter how expensive they are. When our imported supply arrives at the outlet, consider it sold out as soon as we share the info on social media. This mindset about local products needs to get modified. We are doing everything right on our part and get each and everything tested at every step and share the certification on the media as well. We have a dedicated facility to prepare gluten free food to ensure there is no cross contamination. It would be nice if our customer acknowledge these efforts and have some faith in local products.
Me: What plans do you have for growing and expanding your brand?
Mrs Asif: To introduce our brand to International market, starting from UAE and England. We also plan to expand the supply of our products at stores across Pakistan.
I wish them best of luck with everything! Here is brief look at what is being offered
(menu and pizza pic is taken from their website, rest of the picture are taken by the author of the post)
For more information about their products please visit their website homemadecuisine.biz