Juby Rijo, a native of Perumbanachi in Changanassery and Sareena Harris who lives in 26th mile, Kanjirappally have their lives intertwined in an uncanny twist of fate. Both women’s husbands had untimely deaths. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Juby and Sareena had been designing and selling custom-made apparels. However, after the pandemic situation worsened, these women have turned their passion for cooking into profession as well. They ventured into online food delivery and have become successful within a very short period of time. A common friend of theirs gave Juby and Sareena each other's phone numbers after noticing that there were lots of common threads in both the women's lives.
Juby was two months pregnant when her life had turned upside down. Her husband met with an accident and was admitted in the hospital for 7 months. However, he bid adieu to this world despite the extensive medical treatment. Rijo’s demise had shattered Juby and her family. Though it took some time for Juby to get her hold back on life, she found solace in her favourite fashion designing. She named her enterprise Rejoice Creations in memory of her husband. As the apparel designing and dry flower bouquet business was flourishing, COVID-19 began unleashing its claws all over the world. The apparel industry had been hit quite hard and it affected Juby’s business as well. However, this time, Juby wasn’t ready to back down. She turned her business into ‘Rejoice homemade food. Homemade payasam (dessert) and delicious curries and dishes made in her kitchen treat the taste buds of foodies in and around Changanassery.
P.Ko or Pidiyum Kozhiyum (steamed rice balls with spicy chicken curry), SiFuBu or sea food biryani made with prawns and squid, multi layered puttu and beef and KiKaBi or kizhi kappa biryani (boiled tapioca mashed with spicy beef and gravy) are some of her specialities. Juby’s husband Rijo Jacob was a native of Thrikodithanam. She has three kids, Aman, Eden and Ebus.
Harris, who had been working abroad, came home for a quick vacation as he wished to see his kids. He complained of chest pain and was rushed to the hospital. Harris died a month after he fell ill. Sareena and her kids stared at uncertainty after their beloved husband and father's death.
Sareena tried for a job abroad to raise her kids; however, nothing worked out. She soon started an online apparel business and sold coffee wending machines as well. She named her business ‘Sara’, just as Harris had lovingly called her.
Sareena says she had struggled a lot, just to have the two ends meet. Meanwhile, COVID-19 played spoilsport for her business that was beginning to establish. No one wanted designer clothes or coffee wending machines anymore. Sareena decided to bring out her passion for cooking to earn a living. She began online food delivery business called Sara Cloud Kitchen. Her mouthwatering chicken, mutton and beef biryanis have already become the talking point on many social media pages.
It was Juby who contacted Sareena at 7.30 pm one night. The conversation lasted till 11 pm. The two women who faced similar tragedies signed a contract of love, trust and support in their hearts. Sareena has begun ‘Sara Fusion Series, a special menu of local dishes while Juby thrills her loyal customers with weekend specials. Juby’s KiKaBi soon got merged with Sareena’s ‘kizhiyile kappayum koode koodiya biryaniyum’. Her pidi and kozhi became ‘monjulla pidiyum thenga paalil thilacha kozhiyum’ (fusion of pidi and chicken cooked in coconut milk). Irachi pathri became ‘belani’ and the special pickle usually made with beetroot, carrot and dates got upgraded to ‘root fruit’ pickle.
Juby and Sareena have not just shared their recipes with each other but share a beautiful bond of friendship, love and support as well.