We ran into honey entrepreneur Sudarshan Rao at a food swap in Bengaluru recently. Rao had brought along some of his prized raw honey, which had been aged for more than a year. The result was a sticky, fermented honey that was almost alcoholic in taste. Though aged honey is on the agenda, Rao’s year and three-month-old company, HoneyRUs, is into the business of selling fresh seasonal honey that changes every month or so. When you ask him about the kind of honeys he sells, he says, “I love this question because I will always have a different answer. I currently hold the delicious Wild Berry, Neem, Mustard and Eucalyptus honeys. Same time last year, I was holding stocks of Rock Bee honey collected by bees from the crevices of rocks, often at great heights, Bishop’s Weed honey which makes for excellent barbecue rubs for meat, Rainforest honey from estuaries and Jamun honey.”
Know your honey
HoneyRUs offers mono floral, unblended and raw honey, claims Rao, adding that raw honey in its purest form ensures the goodness of enzymatic activity and has antibacterial properties. “Our honey is seasonal because the fruits and flowers our bees pollinate from are seasonal. Some of our honey supplies are, of course, regular because you find those flowers more regularly, but the fun in our honey lies in the varieties that come and go and make you wait till they come back,” he says.
Rao does his sourcing from Kashmir, West Bengal the North East, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where he has tied up with local vendors who produce honey in small batches.
We tasted three varieties. While the one extracted from neem flowers is dense and intensely sweet, the wild berry version is darker in colour and less sweet in flavour. However, our favourite has to be the mustard honey, a light honey with surprising savoury notes, which Rao says can be used to create an icing with cream cheese or baking flour, because of its crystalline nature.
The honey entrepreneur also sells charming wooden honey ladles made by artisans from Channapatna. And in another three weeks, Rao plans to launch a sub brand, a user-friendly squeeze bottle version called Madhurani, the name being a tribute to the Indian queen bee. Though originally from Karnataka, Rao grew up in Delhi and studied Food & Agribusiness at The Royal Agricultural College in the UK. Working with the Tata group in their agribusiness division, he interacted with farmers from UP, which sparked off the idea of setting up a brand involving food and local, seasonal flavours. Experimenting with a few ideas and consulting on small agribusinesses, he ended up interacting with bee keepers and collectors in India and abroad. This led him to the idea of starting HoneyRUs. Plans are afoot to tap the Chennai market in the next few months and work is on to foolproof the website through which you can order online soon.
`165 for a 250 -gm squeeze bottle. Details: 07022224850, firstname.lastname@example.org
— Amrita Bose
Pics: Nagesh Polali