There was a time when earthen vessels were a regular sight in our homes. The very same cookware is now making a comeback on tables at restaurants for serving traditional dishes and households are bringing them back into their kitchens. Ask Sreedevi Padmajam who, as the owner of Organo-Gram, would tell you the same thing.
Sreedevi Padmajam sources earthen cookware and crockery from potter communities around Thiruvananthapuram helping them sustain their livelihood in the process
What began as an online store helped Sreedevi understand the demand for her products. “I was working with the development sector first but wished to start something of my own. The earthen pot as a cooking vessel is almost non-existent nowadays and there are a number of families for whom pottery is a livelihood. It reached a stage where they had to look for other ways to earn income because nobody wanted earthen cookware. That is when I felt that opening such a store would help attract more people to adopt the tradition of using mud vessels. It would also mean a regular source of income for those families engaged in pottery.”
Sreedevi said mud vessels are regularly used in her house. “Whether it is fish or chicken, I prefer to use only mud vessels for cooking. The very taste of the curry is different when we use mud vessels.”
Organo-Gram was opened at Nanthancode in Thiruvananthapuram in May this year. “I pick the handmade vessels from villages located mostly in the northern part of Kerala. The handmade ones are used for cooking as they last longer. The machine-made vessels are mostly used for serving.” Organo-Gram also has about 20 different types of ‘chatti’, including those that can be used to make tea and coffee. Sreedevi said the objective is to ensure that nothing is made in bulk. “We place the order while the products are made in front of us so that no color or foreign substances are added during the process. They then go straight from the ‘chulha’ to our car and then to the store.”
Organo-Gram also stocks coconut sugar, coconut chocolate, coconut vinegar, and other products that Sreedevi sources from farmers in Palakkad and fresh organic honey from Kannur.