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Story of Boombay

Story of Boombay

Story of Boombay

Hi, I’m Niharika Goenka. I’m the founder of Boombay and I’m also a food addict with a history of overtraining, bingeing, under-eating and downright gluttony. I started Arugula & Co. - a health food startup with a single point agenda - to help you #eatmoreveggies in 2018. Now under a whole new identity, I’m adding a new agenda to the list.

Hi, I’m Niharika Goenka. I’m the founder of Boombay and I’m also a food addict with a history of overtraining, bingeing, under-eating and downright gluttony. I started Arugula & Co. - a health food startup with a single point agenda - to help you #eatmoreveggies in 2018. Now under a whole new identity, I’m adding a new agenda to the list.

From my first diet at the age of thirteen, I had tried every protein shake, gone on every “healthy diet”, and even completed a Masters in Nutrition from Columbia University, only to stumble on three simple truths: nutritious food is one that is closest to its original form, unrecognisable ingredients that use numbers and symbols for names are not real food, and lastly, flavour satiates, food never does. Arugula&Co and Boombay are the results of my fifteen-year journey to better health, sustainable food and search for great flavour.


After completing my Masters in Nutrition & Exercise Physiology at the age of 24, I was asked one of two things: “Give me tips on how to lose weight,” or “When are you starting your practice as a nutritionist?”. It was assumed that I would follow the traditional path and become a nutritionist but I didn’t want to limit my career to “weight loss” as, like a lot of urban teenage girls, I too had a history of disordered eating, binge eating, and yo-yo dieting that had long convinced me that ‘dieting’ in any form was not the answer. As I was learning about things such as mindful and intuitive approaches to food, I happened to take a class that changed my life forever. Day 1 of Nutritional Ecology went like this: Joan Dye Gussow, the matriarch of the ‘eat local think global’ movement walks in, eighty-seven at the time, and tells me why the vultures outside my window at Malabar Hill were dying— if you’re curious, it’s because cows were falling sick. Back in the ’90s, we started feeding cattle NSAID’s, the equivalent of a human dose of common over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen. What we didn’t know was that NSAIDs contain a chemical called diclofenac which, when ingested by the vultures that scavenge on cow carcasses, causes instant kidney failure. As the birds fell from the skies, the food systems and the cultural practices of Zoroastrians collapsed in the mere span of a decade.

I wrote to Professor Gussow afterwards saying that I had seen this decline happen in my lifetime. To say that I was moved is an understatement. To say that I was paralyzed by fear and wonder at the same time is also, inevitably, an understatement. It made me think about how to switch people to a plant-based diet without being preachy or imposing. These thoughts finally culminated into one primary emotion: confusion. Back then, I had no idea what I was going to do with everything I had learned. So, I did what any level-headed individual would do. I worked for an environmental and education-focused NGO—on a solar project for low-income schools. The plan was to install solar panels on the rooftops of low-income schools, thus saving them money on electricity bills, while also creating an educational component to teach the kids about climate change and sustainability. What came of my year at the Centre for Environmental Research and Education was financial planning, excel sheets and the idea of a 100% natural salad dressing. You see, even while I was working on strange things like grid parity and carbon footprints, my health remained important to me. I would always carry a salad in a mason jar for lunch every day. My colleagues had never really enjoyed salads before, but they did now. The salad had always seemed to be a rather unreachable dish that was not easily enjoyed in India, given the lack of know-how. This inspired me to create something sustainable, fun, relatable and accessible, and most of all, absolutely delicious. That, in essence, is the story behind Arugula&Co. (and now also Boombay).

Under Arugula&Co., we sold salad dressings because a salad is simple and it helps you #eatmoreveggies. If 50% of our diets were just vegetables, we would have a much better chance of dealing with all our lifestyle and rising food-system issues. We did our bit to market the brand. - we partnered with nutritionists and fitness centres, participated in events and conducted a few of our own. I would stand in the aisles of Nature’s Basket to drive sampling and educate people about the benefits of eating more veggies but they didn’t care much and that’s when my team and I realised that for people, taste and convenience is a must have, health is a much-welcomed bonus. While our customers loved our products and still come back for more yummy goodness, we realised we needed to translate this bubbling excitement for unique flavours, in every aspect of our brand. So we circled back on the only question that mattered: what do our customers want?

We conducted multiple surveys to understand this and gained many insights, the primary one being that taste motivated a consumer to make decisions. 100% plant-based flavours made from cold-pressed oils and unrefined sugars are secondary and tertiary aspects that are great to have in a product and not a necessity for most consumers. We solve all 3 requirements through innovation. We source our local ingredients from regenerative farmers and create globally inspired flavours with absolutely nothing artificial: no refined sugar and no refined oil. That’s what makes us mindfully made. In this process of rediscovery and development, we found even more possible combinations of new flavours and ingredients! That’s when we decided to expand our brand into 6 customer-friendly, versatile product categories across 21 exciting condiments, which you can use everywhere you like, in every way you like. Boombay is not just a Dressing, a Stir Fry Sauce, a Vegan Mayo, a Dip&Spread, a Sauce, and a Topping. It is everything you are craving and in the mood to eat!


These insights became the guiding principles for our all decisions and soon after Boombay was born. The brand shares the same values as Arugula&Co. but it’s here to solve very real issues our customers, farmers and our planet face.