He is a famous name in the government sector with all his experience at holding several high-profile posts in the civil services department. Rajiv Mehrishi has served at many key positions including finance secretary to home secretary to Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India over his four decade long career. But the civil servant is now looking for a change career wise, from being the government’s employee to being an entrepreneur. Mehrishi is now slowly making his mark at the Indian markets, where he sells pickles under the brand name of “Pickley – Taste of Dada”.
Rajiv Mehrishi, who retired as CAG of India in 2020, is following his passion that he picked up as a hobby when he was a joint secretary in the 90s. “I started making pickles as a hobby. I did not take any recipe from anyone. I create my own recipe, according to my taste. I did not learn from anyone. The recipes are my own,” the 1978-batch retired civil servant told The Indian Express in an interview.
“I don’t know how much salt, methi dana (fenugreek seeds), saunf (fennel) should be mixed while making the pickle, but I guess the quantities, and it works well,” said Mehrishi. “Bhagwan ki den hai, woh andaz hamesha sahi baithta hai, galat hota nahin kabhi. (It is God’s gift, the guesswork is correct, it never goes wrong),” he told the newspaper.
Cooking is not a man’s job, the erstwhile IAS officer recalled his mother telling him while speaking at the interview. But he tried his hand at cooking in 1977, when he worked as a lecturer. “I used to cook at my flat in the college,” he said.
“Later, when I became joint secretary in the Central government, I started making pickles. It was a great stress buster. After working through the week, I took up the hobby of making pickles over the weekend. It provided relief and made me feel better. It was very interesting,” Mehrishi told The Indian Express.
“At first, my family liked the taste of the pickles, later friends too liked it. So the quantity of pickles kept increasing. My mother and maternal aunt also liked the pickles I made. I thought that if my aunt was praising it, then it must be good,” the retired IAS officer added.
Things took a turn two years back when he retired and his daughter-in-law Astha Jain came up with a proposal. She decided to market his pickles and thus was born “Pickley – Taste of Dada”. “She does the marketing of the pickles. First, she registered a website, then she got bottles and started doing all this. I don’t look after the marketing side, she does it herself,” said Mehrishi, who hails from Rajasthan’s Bharatpur.
The pickles and chutneys available at Pickley are “absolutely unique, made with original recipes, and are always extremely low in spice (unless asked for),” says the website. Plus, they have no onion or garlic in them. All this keeps the taste of main ingredients profound and fresh. Pickley’s website has about 20 different pickles, including mango, jackfruit, bitter gourd among others.
“I use home-ground spices and mustard oil. I buy a particular brand of mustard oil from Bharatpur — it is costly but I only use this oil,” says Mehrishi, whose pickle brand is owned by Shaurya’`s Pickles and Masalas Llp, set up by his daughter-in-law, and named after his grandson.