Sauté, simmer, and done. “What’s for dinner? anxiety gone! This is the slug line of Masala Mama, a company founded by Indian American couple Nidhi Jalan and Kapil Bawa that offers four all-natural Indian simmer sauces.
The brand, with vegan and vegetarian options, uses fresh spices and premium ingredients, and no preservatives, additives, or anything artificial.
Jalan, who grew up in Kolkata, West Bengal, founded the Brooklyn-based artisanal food startup after sensing an interest in Indian food in the trendy food market of Flatbush in Brooklyn, New York, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But the fact that cooking Indian food is a cumbersome process with a lot of preparation involved, she was inspired to create these sauces, which she claims do 90 percent of the work for you.
“Indian cooking involves more than 50 different spices. There are 10 different types of red chili alone, maybe more,” Jalan told the Cornell Chronicle. “Most people don’t want to buy 20 new spices to try out one or two recipes. They want something simple but that still has complex flavors.”
According to the publication, the duo’s first attempt at selling spice blends was a successful one. They were accepted to Smorgasburg, a weekly open-air food market that attracts 20,000-30,000 people to Brooklyn each weekend to eat from 100 local vendors.
“We started making masala tacos, and the food was really popular, but people weren’t really interested in the spices; they wanted the sauce,” Bawa told the Cornell Chronicle. “That’s when we realized, we should be doing sauces. Because once you have the sauce right, you can add anything to it, meat or vegetables, and it’s very easy.”
“You literally can’t screw up,” Jalan added.
When they made the move to bottled sauces, they enlisted the help of Cornell Food Venture Center, which helps food entrepreneurs with everything from “lab analysis to regulatory compliance, nutritional analysis to packaging.”
From distributing their product to ten stores initially, Masala Mama is now available in 400 to 500 stores nationwide, according to the Cornell Chronicle, which added that three of their sauces – Tikka Masala, Goa Coconut Curry and Vindaloo – are being distributed through Whole Foods grocery stores.
The sauces are also available on Masala Mama’s website.