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This XLRI grad sells grandma's inspired hand-pounded spices, made Rs 32 lakhs in just 6 months

Zilli's, a Hyderabad-based startup founded by Anubhav Bhatnagar, sells grandma's inspired hand-pounded spices and made Rs 32 lakhs in last 6

By Neha Yadav
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This XLRI grad sells grandma's inspired hand-pounded spices, made Rs 32 lakhs in just 6 months

It’s your summer vacation, and you are at your Dadi’s place. You are playing in the garden when the aroma of her curries fills the air around you. 

Fast forward, you are all grown up, and you still love curries, but none of the restaurants or your market spices do justice. Somewhere deep down, you still crave your dadi’s recipe.

What was her secret?

Hand-pounded spices were a speciality of your grandmother, who meticulously crushed the ingredients and infused them with her love. You believe that such a unique touch is impossible to reproduce. 

Think again!

Enter Zilli’s. 

In the vibrant urban landscape of Hyderabad, an exceptional startup called Zilli's is reshaping the story of India's food processing sector.

Established by Anubhav Bhatnagar, a graduate of XLRI, this inventive enterprise is driven by several objectives:

  • Delivering the nostalgic fragrances and recipes of your grandmother directly to your home kitchen.
  • Minimising food wastage
  • Empowering women

But before we delve further, let us help you understand why pounded spices are superior to conventional ones. It's not just the aroma – there are some technical aspects. 

Grandmother's Pounded Spices Other Spices
Richer aroma Distinct, but less depth
Richer taste Burned taste because of heat.
No Loss of Essential Oil Loss of Essential oil
Retained most of the nutrients Maximum loss of nutrients
Cold Pressed Pulverized at high speed
Hand-pounded, labor-intensive Commercially processed for faster output and convenience
Carries cultural significance Lacks personal and cultural ties


India, often referred to as the land of abundance, boasts the world's largest production of fruits and vegetables. However, the food processing industry has barely scratched the surface, with a mere 10% market penetration. This inefficiency leads to significant wastage of fresh produce annually and leaves farmers struggling to secure fair prices due to limited market access.

Anubhav Bhatnagar, the visionary behind Zilli's, originates from Hyderabad, the very city where his culinary revolution has taken root. Armed with management knowledge from XLRI and a fervour for addressing real-world challenges, Anubhav embarked on his entrepreneurial journey during the lockdown period.

Anubhav's journey commenced in his own kitchen, where he tirelessly experimented, occasionally overcooking onions, garlic and multiple spice blends, in his pursuit of perfecting pounded spice powders. 

He soon realized that these powders not only simplified cooking but also elevated the flavours of his dishes, leading to the birth of Zilli's. Anubhav's dedication bore fruit, and the startup rapidly gained popularity.

Zilli's specializes in the art of pounding spices and creating unique blends that retain the natural essence of spices without losing essential oils. 

Their offerings include essential ingredients like – Garam Masala, Chai Masala, Dilli Chaat Masala, Bombay Sandwich Masala, Turmeric Milk Mix and Kolkata Jhal Muri Masala. In addition, they offer a few dehydrated spices: Red Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Ginger Powder, Tomato Powder and Tamarind Powder.

Zilli's initially took an innovative approach by establishing direct partnerships with manufacturers. Recently, they've also established their own unit in Budvel, Hyderabad. As a result, these hand-pounded spice blends are now accessible in both India and the USA through their website and on Amazon.in and Amazon.com

In a conversation with Startup Pedia, Founder Anubhav Bhatnagar remarks, "Culinary innovation is at the heart of Zilli's. We believe that in each pounded spice, there's a journey from field to fork, a story of flavour waiting to be discovered. Our mission isn't just reducing food wastage. It's about reconnecting people with the vibrant essence of spice blends and empowering women along the way.”

Zilli's follows a business model centred on producing 100% natural, pure, and vegan pounded spice powders. Their products are devoid of preservatives and artificial flavours, making them a healthy choice for consumers. With a shelf life of 12 to 18 months, these premium export-quality powders are ready to elevate a variety of culinary creations.

Zilli's is also incubated under "Atal Incubation Center ALEAP We-hub", which is supported by Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog and the Government of India. The firm has also registered a revenue of Rs 32 lakhs in the last six months of operations. 

Over the last twelve months, Zilli's has successfully handled 30,000+ orders and commenced exporting its products to the United States Of America.