YaaTA (Jangbali) noodles: new budget noodles you have to try
Jangbali is darker in color-crafted from buckwheat flour. They are thin noodles and have a nutty flavor and earthy taste which makes them an awesome addition to salads, an entrepreneur Phuntsho Wangmo said.
It is locally known as “Puta,” made from buckwheat, on every special day, especially during Losar. However, now noodles from other countries are taking over, and people show less interest in traditional noodles.
“As increasing trends of Bhutanese switching to Korean noodles and testing various noodles produced in other countries, I took it as a business idea to make a noodle out of buckwheat. It also adds to organic food culture,” Phuntsho said.
Phuntsho said it was founded with the intention of promoting the products as one of the healthy foods in our country and contributing to the growth of the nation’s economy, “despite the fact that my products make only a minor contribution.”
When she started her business-YaaTA Noodles, she began with little funding However, once she began taking more orders, she knew that she had to secure outside funding and attended a variety of business services portals like the Cottage of Small Industry (CSI), Loden Foundation, and Department of Cottage and Small Industry (DCSI).
“I received offers from several sources about providing funding for production after about a month of events, and with the help of DCSI, I started the business of YaaTA in 2017.”
Phuntsho started her business with a total investment of Nu 50,000 in 2017 at the Startup center at Changzamtok. Today, she is one of the entrepreneurs who want to substitute various imported noodles.
“With time and development, the import of goods has increased drastically. Thereby, people’s choices change due to the abundance of options,” she said, adding that to a certain extent, noodles also reflect the Bhutanese traditional food and customs of China.
With a competitive market for noodles, she has no choice left but to use her social media pages occasionally to sell her noodles.
However, she said that she had already distributed marketing materials to other districts and that her product was being sold through those who had already helped her in the market.
One distinguishing feature of her product is that the flavor of her noodles is nutty and earthy, which gives them a naturally sweet taste. They are made with higher ratios of buckwheat in addition to media and atta, giving them the taste of locally produced buckwheat.
“Nowadays, she receives orders to take her noodles from her store,” she said, adding that the noodles she created are designed in such a way that noodle is served to people of all ages.
In the meantime, one package of her noodles Puta costs Nu 90, and Jangbhali costs Nu 100, and they are dealing both in wholesale and retail.
She shared that earlier she pitched her product at the Startup Center at Changzamtok with the help of DSCI, which has helped her business grow.
Recently, Phuntsho established the YaaTA Noodle factory in July this year, at Wangsisina, with the project name ‘Bhutan ramen’ and the brand name ‘YaaTA noodles,’ becoming the very first company in the country to produce noodles out of buckwheat to replace imports of noodles from other countries.
Moreover, Phuntsho shared that gathering buckwheat from the farm is an arduous task as it is not able to be gathered easily in time from the farm, on top of the difficulty in marketing.
“After production, it is also difficult to obtain a good market from the people because most people are unaware of the recipe and most people are new to my product, and it is difficult to obtain a business from our people because most people prefer non-locally produced noodles.” She also added that another difficult area is packaging, where they are unable to produce the same labeling and packaging as products from other countries.
Regarding her produce, she said that she has received positive feedback from customers so far, with some even demanding that it tastes great and has become their favorite.
However, she said that being an entrepreneur was challenging and that she had to face numerous obstacles, but she shared that she confronts herself, saying, “If I can positively impact my society by offering employment opportunities in the future, and if I can give good service to my community keeping that in mind, it helps me keep going.” Presently, four of them are working in her factory of YaaTA noodles.
Additionally, she said that at first, she knew that she had to work hard and spend long working hours a day because her business is still in its infancy, but she added, “I have a desire for success that keeps me going with positive vibes.”
Phuntsho said that as the country continues to modernize and more people prefer pure organic foods. She plans to produce her product entirely from buckwheat in the future. “I want to improve my products so that it can serve as infant cereal,” she said.
She also said that, as of now, there is not much income, “I would say that there is a kind of self-satisfaction that keeps me happy while working as an entrepreneur and that this is probably what people prefer.”
Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu