Taste Test: Hotdog and Hamburger Toppers
Not so long ago Indian cuisine in the US was typecast: buffet fare with a particular range of flavors. In the last few years, talented chefs have been bringing the real thing. You can even quick-prep the real thing in your own kitchen thanks to Maya Kaimal Foods, about to expand their selection of sauces and dal by adding rice dishes with signature South Indian flair.
Maya Kaimal grew up savoring the bright, fresh cuisine of her father’s home state of Kerala on the tropical Malabar Coast. “Kerala has the perfect climate for growing spices,” she says. “The food is coconut- and seafood-based, very different from the flatbreads and chicken Tandoori of northern India. We’d get home and Dad would get excited about recreating the dishes—he was an atmospheric physicist who loved cracking recipe codes on weekends.”
Friends tasting her father’s well-developed recipes were typically amazed. “People would say, ‘Wow! I didn’t know this was Indian food!’ So I decided there was a cookbook in it.” In 1996, the book, cleverly named Curried Favors, won the International Association of Culinary Professionals’ Julia Child Best First Book Award. “She gave the award to me in person, this woman who was a force of nature for every type of delicious. That boosted my confidence that people were ready for a wider conversation,” Kaimal says.
The first three simmer sauces Kaimal produced for the retail grocery market in 2003 were an immediate hit in a friend’s chain of Manhattan food stores. Production needed to ramp up. “I clicked with an amazing Austrian chef who was making pestos and things in Saugerties, Wolfgang Brandl, and he helped me scale up to his 500-gallon pots, and the stores he sold to started carrying us too.”
Life was a tad hectic for a bit, as Kaimal commuted between Brooklyn and Saugerties while expecting twins. The couple relocated their twin girls and growing enterprise from Brooklyn to Woodstock a few months into parenting and ultimately to Rhinebeck (read our profile on Kaimal’s remodeled Rhinebeck Victorian).
The twins are now happy teens. And Kaimal’s brainchildren—the sauces—are now available in shelf-stable format and produced on the West Coast “with small-batch sensibilities,” says Kaimal. The line of fine Indian foods have become widely loved by home chefs— you’ll find them at Costco, Hannaford, ShopRite, Adams Fairacre Farms, Sunflower, and many more.“The sauces make a base for so many dishes,” Kaimal says. “Open the jar, add any main ingredient, simmer 15 minutes, and have a meal that tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen.” The selection has grown from three varieties to 10, and now includes the Everyday Dal line of lentil and bean dishes, soon to be accompanied by South Indian style rice.
“This is an ancient cuisine with spices that are both flavorful and functional,” she says. “It exists outside of trends. The recipes and techniques are delicious and thoughtful, made for people who relish food . And behind the dishes, there’s still the mission of helping people appreciate these amazing flavors and changing the way the rest of the world thinks about Indian food.”
May 13, 2019
Store-bought sauces make weeknight cooking a breeze—but that doesn’t mean we’re making curry every night. Here are eight ways to think outside the box (or jar) with simmer sauces.
So here’s the thing: We’re kinda into simmer sauces—those premade, often shelf-stable sauces that promise big flavor in little time. Is it cool for the editors of a food publication to declare their love for a premade sauce packet? Probably not. Are we ashamed? Maybe a little bit. But here’s the thing on top of the thing: Some of them are really good.
Take it from Anya Hoffman, former Epicurious editor and mother of two. She sampled the tikka masala from Masala Mama recently and it made her reconsider the whole idea of buying sauce in a jar. “It has all real ingredients—no weird stabilizers or artificial preservatives,” she said, noting that the sauce’s sodium content was also surprisingly reasonable for a packaged product. “And it’s actually delicious.”
Next on the list of verified sauce-in-a-packet lovers: Chris Morocco, who spends most of his workday developing new recipes in the Test Kitchen and most of his off-hours figuring out how to feed his own children. His top sauce is from Rick Bayless’s Frontera line. “The Red Chile Enchilada Sauce is essentially a red chile–tomato purée,” Chris says—it can just as easily be mixed with coconut milk for Thai curry, or stirred into sautéed ground beef and canned beans for instant chili, as it can be poured over Mexican-style enchiladas (that last being its intended purpose). “What I like most about Bayless’s sauces is that they’re super-flavorful, but also: If the package says mild, it’s gonna be mild, so I’ll have no problem getting my kids to eat it.”
For more intense spice, Chris turns to the Indian brand Maya Kaimal, which makes both shelf-stable and refrigerated sauces. And while he may simmer chicken or tofu in the sauce to toss with noodles, he may also warm up just a bit of it to spoon over vegetables, making them more appealing to younger eaters—and, honestly, older ones too.
Where else can simmer sauces go? Here are some ideas:
1. Naan Pizza
Basically, you can think of any simmer sauce like pizza sauce. For an Indian-inspired version, spread about 1/4 cup of tikka masala sauce onto one side of store-bought naan (how much you use will be determined by the size of your naan; just make sure to cover it, leaving a 1/4-inch edge all the way around). Top with sliced rotisserie chicken, rinsed canned chickpeas, and big crumbles of feta cheese, and place in a 450-degree oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the ingredients are warmed through and the naan is crisping around the edges. Drizzle with plain yogurt—or Greek yogurt thinned with a little bit of water or lemon juice—and scatter cilantro on top, then slice into pieces.
2. Tex-Mex Noodles
Sauté 1 pound of ground beef until crispy and cooked through. Remove from the pan and reserve while sautéing green peppers and onions in the rendered beef fat. Add 1 cup of Frontera’s Green Chile Enchilada Sauce and return the beef to the pan. Cook until warmed through, add cooked spaghetti, and toss until combined, adding some of the pasta cooking water if necessary to thin out the sauce. Toss in crumbled queso fresco and serve.
3. Garlic Dip
Last-minute get-together? Stir 2 to 3 tablespoons of Frontera’s Roasted Garlic Chicken Skillet Sauce, bolstered with lime and chipotle, into a cup of Greek yogurt. Taste and adjust with more sauce or more yogurt as desired. Pair with toasted bread, pita chips, or crudités.
A spin on a Middle Eastern dish of eggs poached in spiced tomato sauce, this method takes well to all kinds of flavors. Warm up Maya Kaimal’s Kashmiri Curry sauce—a tomato-coconut sauce perfumed with nutmeg, mace, and ginger—until simmering, crack eggs right into it and then transfer to a 375-degree oven. Bake until the egg whites are cooked through but the yolks are still runny, about 15 minutes. If you want to get really crazy, toss some shrimp into the sauce just before you crack in the eggs. Finish by crumbling feta over the top and scattering with mint, cilantro, parsley, or scallions.
5. Shrimp Tacos
Based on Goan curry, Masala Mama’s Coconut Curry is a tropical Indian sauce with coconut milk and tamarind, spiced with ginger and coriander. Pour just enough of it over peeled, sautéed shrimp to give the shellfish a saucy glaze, then stuff those shrimp into warm corn tortillas and top with diced mango, white onion, and shredded Napa cabbage.
6. Lasagna Vindaloo
Layer parcooked lasagna noodles with spoonfuls of Masala Mama’s Vindaloo Sauce (a fragrant tomato- and vinegar-based sauce with lots of garlic, and hints of clove and cardamom) straight from the jar, then add on sautéed ground lamb, dollops of ricotta cheese, and mozzarella following the instructions here, but skipping the part about cooking the sauce. Bake in a 375-degree oven for about 45 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese on top has browned.
7. Mango Grilled Fish
Saffron Road makes a Thai-inspired mango sauce. Use it to marinate fish for 30 minutes to an hour before grilling—or stir a little bit into ketchup or mayonnaise for an instant “secret” sauce to serve with burgers or hot dogs at cookouts all summer long.
8. Pork Mole Burgers
Mole, the notoriously long-cooking Mexican sauce, is easy when you simply rip open a packet. Take a cue from Istanbul and use Frontera Red Mole Skillet Sauce to make “wet burgers.” Following the instructions here, make burger patties out of ground pork. Then sear them, flipping a few times, until the meat is cooked through, and coat with the sauce. Use more of that sauce to brush the cut sides of toasted buns—add some shredded pepper Jack if you’re feeling really feisty—and then warm them all in the oven per the recipe directions.
Are you the kind of person who eats Justin’s peanut butter by the spoonful? Or maybe your pantry is always stocked with an array of Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flours. If so, then you’ve probably wondered about the people behind these supermarket staples.
In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, eight business owners open up about how they turned their passion for eating well into a recipe for success.
Justin Gold from Justin’s
As a longtime vegetarian, Justin Gold, 41, was always on the hunt for delicious ways to add protein to his diet. When he couldn’t find good nut-butter options in the store, he began making his own butters at home in a food processor but quickly ran into a problem: “My roommates would eat them all,” he says with a laugh. “So I had to write ‘Justin’s’ on all the jars.” While working as a waiter in 2004, he started selling four nut-butter flavors at his local farmers’ market. They were a hit, and his company took off. In 2016 he sold Justin’s, which now makes over 30 items (including the first organic peanut butter cup), to Hormel Foods for $286 million—but he still feels connected to his customers. “It’s really neat when somebody tastes our product for the first time and goes, ‘Wow, this is great!’”
Rachael and Andy Berliner from Amy’s
When Rachel Berliner was put on bed rest during her pregnancy in 1987, her husband, Andy, struggled to make their dinners. “I bought a couple of frozen lasagnas,” he says, but Rachel didn’t like them. “We knew there must be other people like us, who don’t have time but want a delicious meal.” That year they would give birth to their daughter Amy and also to the organic, vegetarian frozen-food company named after her. They started with pot pies, and sales took off: “There wasn’t anything else on the market like that,” says Rachel. Amy, now with a 3-year-old son of her own, sits on the board of the company, worth an estimated $500 million. “We’re very committed to staying a family business,” says Rachel.
Lara Merriken from Lärabar
Lara Merriken always had an entrepreneurial spirit. “I had a paper route at 10 years old,” she says. “I did everything from lawn mowing to dog walking to grocery shopping.” On a hike in 2000, while eating a bag of trail mix, Merriken, now 50, had an idea. “I thought, ‘How can I take something healthy, like fruit and nuts, and make it taste indulgent?’ ” From there she created Lärabar—a line of bars inspired by dessert flavors like cherry pie and cashew cookie. “I had no idea the company would become what it is,” says Merriken, who sold it to General Mills for an estimated $55 million in 2008. “I had just hoped to make a positive impact by making healthy food.”
Maya Kaimal from Maya Kaimal Fine Indian Foods
Award-winning cookbook author Maya Kaimal decided to take her traditional Indian dishes from the pages of her books and into the grocery aisle when she realized there was a “massive missed opportunity,” she says. “We traveled to India when I was a kid and you couldn’t help but just be knocked over by the food when you’re there because there’s so much more to it then what you find on an Indian restaurant menu.” Kaimal, 53, turned her family recipes into jarred simmer sauces and ready-to-eat dals, which are sold in more than 7,000 stores nationwide. “The whole idea is that they’re convenient but you’re not sacrificing on flavor.”
Bob Moore from Bob’s Red Mill
A blind date in 1952 with his future wife, Charlee, set Bob Moore up for the career of a lifetime. After the couple married a year later and quickly started a family, health-conscious Charlee decided “we needed to change our diet,” says Bob, 90. “We became quite enamored with all whole-grain, healthy food.” At the same time, Bob became “unhappy” owning a Firestone store, and the pair opened a stone-ground flour mill, where they would eventually produce the hundreds of healthy cereals and flours made today. (Charlee died at age 90 in October.) On his 81st birthday in 2010, Bob gifted the couple’s $100 million company to his employees to honor their role in its success: “They made us the ultimate company that I’m proud of.”
Michele Hoskins from Michele’s Syrup
The recipe for honey-cream syrup had been passed down in Michele Hoskins’s family for generations. But instead of sharing the sweet secret with her own kids, Hoskins, 68, “wanted to start a business with the recipe and pass that on.” She quit her job as a school teacher in 1984, “sold everything I owned,” and made her first batch in a 55-gallon drum in her basement. Hoskins still has only one full-time employee—her daughter Keisha—but has fans all over the country, selling 200,000 bottles last year. “It’s been a very interesting, very prayerful journey.”
The incredible story of how South Indian food evangelist Maya Kaimal conquered the American supermarket. One jar of tikka masala at a time.
Maya Kaimal didn’t set out to become one of America’s biggest Indian-food entrepreneurs. She did what many educated professionals with culinary aspirations do. She worked at a prestige food magazine and wrote cookbooks. But then two planes smashed into the Twin Towers, engulfing them in a fiery burst and choking Manhattan with thick, black smoke. After those two pillars of Wall Street capitalism crumbled to the concrete, global markets tumbled, and Kaimal lost her job as photography editor of Saveur, whose offices were located some 50 blocks north.
“I was seeing other friends getting laid off; advertisers were pulling ads,” she tells me. “It just seemed like the magazine industry was breaking. I realized I had to figure out a new job for myself.”
Kaimal, who has an art degree from Pomona College, says she never had a deep-seated desire to start her own business. “My husband was more of a risk taker than me,” she says of journalist Guy Lawson. “He had a bunch of friends who were very entrepreneurial.” One of those friends was Andy Arons, founder of Manhattan grocer Gourmet Garage, whom Lawson and Kaimal happened to invite over for dinner while she was testing recipes for her second cookbook. He was immediately taken with her food. “I just remember thinking, This is the most deftly handled Indian food, and there’s nothing like that out there,” Arons says. He told her that if she put it in jars, he would sell it in his stores.
Today, Maya Kaimal Fine Indian Foods—which includes three refrigerated and six shelf-stable jarred sauces, and five ready-to-eat dals in pourable pouches—is carried in some 7,000 stores nationwide. It is the rare kind of brand that appeals to customers in big-box chains such as Target and Costco and more discerning ones in specialty food stores such as San Francisco’s Bi Rite Market and Whole Foods. But the path there wasn’t so clear when Kaimal started out. In the pre-turmeric-mad era of the early 2000s, despite the efforts of cookbook legends Julie Sahni and Madhur Jaffrey, many Americans thought of Indian food only in the context of cheaper buffet restaurants.
In the late ’90s, a couple of new Indian restaurants opened in New York City that challenged that notion. In 1997, Bombay-born biochemist-turned-chef Floyd Cardoz, who was previously executive sous chef at the acclaimed Lespanisse, teamed up with restaurateur Danny Meyer to open Tabla, which earned three stars from then New York Times restaurant critic Ruth Reichl. Just three years later, Punjab native Avtar Walia, a former warehouse manager for Gucci, opened another fancy Indian restaurant, Tamarind, which also proved a critics’ favorite. Still, modern regional Indian cooking hadn’t yet been boxed up and distributed to supermarkets.
Born and raised in Boston, Kaimal grew up watching Julia Child’s The French Chef on WGBH with her New Englander mother, Lorraine, an ambitious and adventurous cook. On occasion, her physicist father, Chandran, would re-create his mother’s South Indian dishes: coconut-milk-laced fish stews and tamarind-tangy lentil soups. Kaimal and her family would also visit Kerala, a lush tropical state on the subcontinent’s southwestern coast, where she learned how to cook with her father’s sister, Aunty Kamala, on a family compound surrounded by coconut palms and banana trees.
“There was a whole gap between the Indian food that I knew growing up and what Americans thought was Indian,” Kaimal recalls. That realization sparked Kaimal’s desire to educate and inspired her to write two cookbooks: Curried Flavors: Family Recipes From South India (1996) and Savoring the Spice Coast of India: Fresh Flavors From Kerala (2000). And it carried through to how she envisioned her food line: accessible to Americans but true to her roots.
“Maya came up with this idea for these simmer sauces,” says Arons. “You would cook vegetables or chicken and then finish it off with these fresh sauces. They were thick, perfectly balanced between sweetness and savory. And from a seller’s perspective, they were also vegan and lasted like 45 days.” Kaimal chose fresh sauces to make them as close to homemade as possible, but it was also a strategic decision, along with the bright and vibrant graphic packaging for the line. “In the early 2000s, Indian food was getting shoved in aisles nobody ever went to,” she recalls. “I wanted to give it a new context to change up how people think about this cuisine.”
By producing refrigerated products, Kaimal’s line would be placed along what they call the perimeter of the store, near other high-end products, like imported cheeses, fresh pastas, and salumi. Today, a number of Indian foods, like turmeric, ghee, and coconut oil, have been popularized by the new American obsession with wellness. In a recent piece for Healthy-ish, Khushbu Shah examined the “food colonization” of Indian food by health bloggers who have co-opted Ayurvedic principles and dishes, like khichdi, and transformed them into unrecognizable forms. Kaimal achieved the opposite. She invaded the Eurocentric sections of the grocery store with sophisticated South Indian products.
Kaimal knew that she wanted her first products to represent her South Indian heritage. To start, she chose a thick, rich, and coconut-y stew made with ginger, green chile, and mustard seeds popped in oil, and then vindaloo, the classic tangy-spicy sauce from Goa, flavored with tamarind, chiles, and black pepper. The third flavor sparked a big argument between Kaimal and her husband. He wanted to do a tikka masala—the ubiquitous creamy spiced tomato sauce—arguing that it would be an easy sell, but she didn’t want to do something so obvious. “I came to my senses,” she recalls with a laugh. “Of course, it’s our best-selling one now.”
As Arons promised, Gourmet Garage was Kaimal’s first customer when she debuted her first three refrigerated sauces—coconut curry, vindaloo, and, of course, tikka masala—in 2003. She also placed them in New York’s mega-grocery Fairway and the Indian-leaning specialty food shop Kalustyan’s. Her sauces got a mention in the New York Times Food Stuff column. “I remember walking around Fairway and seeing people holding the cut-out section of the Times and asking for it,” says Kaimal. Soon, her simmer sauces were in specialty grocers all over Manhattan, followed by New England and then the rest of the country as she made inroads with distributors all over America.
I found some of Kaimal’s jars—she now sells shelf-stable ones—at Atkins Farm Country Market in Amherst, Massachusetts, near where my parents live. My father has long maintained that he doesn’t like Indian food. But when I served him cubed chicken thighs simmered in extra-spicy Madras curry, flavored with black pepper, coriander, and curry leaves, he inhaled it before I could gloat. I mentioned this to Kaimal, and we talked about how Indian food is represented in some parts of the country and how that correlates to the country’s income level. “When people want to pay $10.99 for an all-you-can-eat buffet, you’re going to end up with very cheap ingredients, and it doesn’t do [Indian food] justice,” she says. “I’m sad about that, too, because I hate to criticize a small business—economics are forcing them to just downgrade. They are so squeezed on the margins.”
Those cultural forces have started to change recently. At the same time that Kaimal was building up her business, the American grocery store was evolving as the counterculture generation grew older and acquired wealth. The mind-expanding precepts of the ’60s, which challenged a Western orientation and looked beyond Europe for how to eat and live, were incorporated into mainstream culture. Yoga, vegetarianism, and previously unfamiliar international foods spread far and wide. Kaimal’s products were primed for this moment. Her line had “clean” ingredient lists before the idea existed. And Indian food has a built-in functional standpoint, as well as deeply rooted vegetarian traditions. “Whole Foods and other markets made natural foods exciting,” she says. “And they’ve devoted a lot of their real estate in the store to Indian food.”
“In the early 2000s, Indian food was getting shoved in aisles nobody ever went to.”
Meanwhile, the Asian Indian population in the U.S. became one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups, growing from 1,678,765 in 2000 to 2,843,391 in 2010, and with that increasing visibility and cultural influence. Chennai-born model Padma Lakshmi started hosting Bravo’s hit show Top Chef in 2006, and chef Maneet Chauhan became a regular judge on popular Food Network show Chopped. In 2012, the New York City Michelin Guide awarded stars to two Indian restaurants, Junoon and Tulsi, while other newer spots, like Indian Accent and Adda in New York and Chai Pani in Atlanta, also won critical praise.
And a new generation of young Indian-American food writers, like Shah, Tejal Rao at The New York Times, and Priya Krishna, who writes the Indian-ish column for Bon Appétit, started bringing a more textured understanding of Indian food to mainstream publications. If there were few voices proselytizing for modern Indian food when Kaimal started out, there is now a chorus.
In Kaimal’s first year of business, she sold 10,000 cases of products to a handful of New York City stores. Not bad for a new indie brand. Today, she is doing 40 times that number, shipping to disparate locales like Topeka, Kansas, and Lyndon, Kentucky. Tikka masala is still a best-seller. Kaimal has since expanded her line to include more dishes that aren’t yet household names in America. There is Jalfrezi sauce, a Bengali classic made with tomato, red peppers, and garam masala now popular in the U.K. And dal makhani, a rich North Indian black lentil stew. Perhaps the best measure of success is in imitation: There are now multiple brands making Indian simmer sauces. “She’s been modeled after in consumer goods,” says Arons. “She was definitely the first one.”
Women’s Health Food Awards: The 42 Best Healthy Foods Of 2019
Prepare to load up your shopping cart.
Finally, no more store searching. Make a beeline for these packaged foods loaded with extra benefits. Our WH test-kitchen experts ripped open more than 300 packages (no joke!) to find the best healthy foods of 2019—made with clean ingredients—that’ll keep you satisfied from a.m. to p.m. We’re obsessed, and we think you’ll be too. Now, who’s hungry?
Authentic Indian Ready-to-Eat Dal
Maya Kaimal Fine Indian Foods
Canned soups tend to be high in sodium. So try dals—inspired by lentil dishes from all over the world—clocking in at about 320 mg per serving.
10 Food Hacks to Simplify Camp Life: With a few changes to your pantry, you can make quick, cleanup-free meals on the road
My mother thinks I’m a food snob. Though she’s lived around the world, she was born and bred in the Midwest, and her cooking reflects that straightforward, no-nonsense approach. She can whip a pound of ground beef and a few odd veggies into a feast in under 30 minutes. By the time she’s finished eating and cleaned up, I’m usually still fastidiously julienning the carrots, digging through the fridge for Thai basil (because standard won’t do), and weighing the pros and cons of rice vinegar versus mirin.
But living in Artemis, our Airstream, has changed all that. Don’t get me wrong—compared to tent camping, we have a Top Chef–worthy kitchen with a three-burner gas stove, an oven large enough for full-size baking sheets, and a five-cubic-foot refrigerator. Still, when you are constrained to 12 square inches of counter space, gourmet cooking is hard. In the name of time and water efficiency, we have resorted to many kitchen shortcuts. As much as I hate to say it, these purchases have made our evenings calmer and resulted in more time to idle at the table and under the stars. Also, my mother will be proud.
Bagged Prewashed Lettuce
In the same way that I know meat doesn’t come in neat blocks from a shrink-wrapped package, I have always resisted bagged greens. But we eat salad every night, and properly washing a dirty head of lettuce could burn through 5 percent of our water for two weeks. So we’ve resigned ourselves to bags—at least in the trailer. Pro tip: Skip the stuff in plastic boxes. They take up way too much space in a tiny fridge.
Grated Cheese and Sliced Bread
Our miniature camping grater gets the job done but takes ages and often produces bloody knuckles. Buying grated cheese saves time and dirty dishes. As for bread, I used to bake at an artisan shop and believed you shouldn’t be able to buy loaves presliced any more than an apple or a filet. But cutting bread spreads crumbs on the floor, which we already sweep three times a day.
Paper Kitchen Products
I have an aversion to single-use paper products like a Pro Tour racer has an aversion to a Huffy. But on the road, where we sometimes go two weeks between laundry, paper towels are a godsend. They soak up grease, wipe spills, clean pots, and save water. If we used tea towels to clean the kitchen, we’d have to get a second hamper. Similarly, we wash our plates every night, except when we have company, which means lots of dishes and lots of water. In that case, paper plates aren’t so bad.
My aversion to freezer vegetables was probably even greater than my aversion to bagged lettuce until I realized that in the off-season (the majority of time we’re eating this stuff anyway), frozen peas, asparagus, and strawberries are probably more nutritious than their fresh counterparts. Also, frozen veggies keep longer and don’t generate scraps from cleaning and chopping.
You know what takes up a lot of space in a tiny fridge? A bottle of wine. And I think canned wines are like screw-top bottles a decade ago: They seem inferior, but really our aversion is just cultural. I’m no sommelier, but we’ve had a bunch of wines that taste pretty good to our palate (Underwood!). Don’t just take it from me.
I was raised in a family where every meal is made from scratch, but having some prepacked options makes mealtime easier, especially if you’re up a forest road and haven’t been able to resupply for a while. And there are healthy options: Maya Kaimal Curries served over a meat or veggie, Annie’s Shells mac and cheese with broccoli and fresh tomatoes, or any of the Good-to-Go entrées. These aren’t fancy, but they’re quick, nourishing, and tasty.
Though conventional wisdom says you need just an apple a day, we like to eat bananas, mangos, apples, kiwis, raspberries, blueberries, and tons of other fruits. But that’s a lot of bulk when you head out for two weeks. Even if you could store it, half would go bad before you got to the bottom of the bin. We discovered freeze-dried fruit at Trader Joe’s and haven’t been vitamin C deficient since. There’s a veritable cornucopia of flavors (strawberries…mmm!), and the bags weigh next to nothing (one to two ounces) while packing a week’s worth of fruit.
This will sound counterintuitive because of my fixation over storage space, but I love our FoodSaver GameSaver Outdoorsman. We originally bought it for packaging elk and deer for winter, and it’s a godsend. But we also use it to make our own boil-in-a-bag meals. When we cook stews, curries, or rice dishes (or pretty much anything), we make double batches, vacuum-pack the leftovers, and freeze it. Presto! Dinner a week later. It’s also great for cleanup-free overnight backpacking trips.
Dirty dishes mean wasted water, which is our biggest bane since water is a precious commodity and the most limiting factor in how long we can stay in the woods. Rather than stuff leftovers in Tupperware, which will need washing, or worse, Ziplocs, which will just get tossed, we’ve come to love these beeswax-infused organic cotton wraps called Bee’s Wraps. They keep pretty much anything fresh and need just a quick wipe before you can use them again. One sheet last months.
This gourmet gadget cooks whatever you want in a perfect-temperature water bath, but honestly it’s a boon for easy food prep and cleanup. In the past, we’ve had trouble cooking the perfect steak on the road; now all it takes is preseasoning the meat, stuffing it in a Ziploc (or sealing it with the FoodSaver), and tossing it into a pot of hot water. (A quick sear on the grill is nice for color and carbon.) From pork to chicken, salmon to eggs, you can throw it in, set the thermometer, and come home to the perfect meal every time. There are all kinds of DIY setups for turning a cooler into a safe cooker at camp. Best of all, when you’re done, there’s zero cleanup, and you can recycle the water for making coffee or washing your face.
Every year the “flavor forecasters” of our industry claim that, “Indian food will be the next breakout cuisine!” I always take notice — being half Indian and the founder of an Indian food company — but sadly, it never pans out. What has panned out, however, is a steady build of interest in and appreciation of the cuisine as it makes its way onto more grocery store shelves and cooking shows and into delivery meal kits. It transforms in exciting ways in the hands of genre-bending second-generation Indian chefs.
My pet theory about why Indian food doesn’t catch fire is because unlike other Asian cuisines, Indian cooking doesn’t rely on sugar for flavor. Take Japanese sushi rice, Thai coconut curries, Korean barbecue, Vietnamese dipping sauces, Chinese hoisin, plum and oyster sauces, the list goes on with savory Asian foods that contain some form of sugar. I’m a huge fan of all these cuisines and I appreciate the way their sweetness amplifies the chili heat and salty-sour tanginess. But it makes me think about why Indian food might be more challenging for the Western palate to embrace.
So, while it may not be “easy love,” Indian food is unique in the world when it comes to spices: we know how to coax out the flavors and we know how to harness the healing properties. Not only are curries deeply flavorful, they’re also healthful. This is where Indian cuisine’s true genius lies. And this is what is finally getting some attention outside of South Asia.
For thousands of years, Indians have been sharing their black pepper, turmeric, ginger and cardamom with the world, taking in exchange cumin, coriander and fennel from the Mediterranean, cinnamon and clove from Indonesia, and chilies from the Americas. Since antiquity, Indians readily absorbed these new ingredients into their cooking, building an increasingly complex formula for flavor over time. A “curry,” as it would be generically named by the British in the 1700s, would usually include sautéed aromatics such as onion, garlic and ginger; a souring agent like tomato, tamarind or dried unripe mango; a thickener, usually coconut if you’re from tropical South India or dairy if you’re from the drier North; and it would easily contain a dozen spices: whole, crushed and ground.
By using various forms of a spice, Indians manage to extract different essences from a single ingredient. Cumin is a perfect example: whole seeds sizzled in oil, dry-toasted seeds, crushed seeds or finely powdered seeds will each provide a different kind of cumin flavor. And for anyone who thinks curry powder has anything to do with Indian food, PLEASE READ THIS: curry powder is not a “thing” for Indian people. Indian cooks create their own blends at home, making a unique mix for each curry. A meat dish is enhanced by coriander, cumin and black pepper; fish often uses fennel and fenugreek; and vegetables lean into cumin, turmeric and cayenne.
As delicious as they are, spices are also “functional foods” and have been long before the phrase became an on-trend marketing tool. Many spices aid in digestion, making beans more digestible and nutrients more easily absorbed. Chilies improve circulation, cardamom removes toxins, ginger relieves nausea, coriander improves cholesterol levels, and the ultimate heavy-hitter turmeric is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and potentially reduces risk of Alzheimer’s disease, to name just a few of its properties. In order to activate the benefits, you often need to combine spices. For example, it takes black pepper to unlock turmeric’s magic, and not surprisingly, you’ll frequently find those ingredients paired.
These properties have been well known to Indians for over 5,000 years, which is as old as Ayurveda. Developed in India, Ayurveda is the world’s oldest system of medicine, based on balancing mind, body and spirit. Once you identify your constitutional type or dosha, then food choices can help you harmonize your system. If you tend to be a “cool” type, you might eat warming foods like cumin, black pepper and mustard, and if you’re a “warm” type, you might choose cooling foods like coriander, fennel and cardamom. Ayurveda takes into account the beneficial aspects of spices with the effect they have on each individual.
And just when we thought we understood the medicinal and flavorful qualities of spices in Indian cooking, researchers at the Indian Institute for Technology in Jodhpur recently discovered something fascinating about Indian food on the cellular level. They found that unlike in Western cuisines, Indian ingredients are made up of chemical compounds that don’t share similar flavor traits. This is diametrically opposed to Western cooking and its foundation of overlapping flavors. Examples of this overlap include butter and cream, or wine and cheese. The finding has been hailed as proof of what makes Indian cooking so delicious, but it could also be contributing to why Americans are slow to warm up to it. I think it’s part of the genius.
So, while Indian cuisine may never rise to a “hot trend” among American foodies, the rewards of eating it are there on so many levels. At the heart of Indian food is a beautiful alchemy that’s mastered by Indian chefs and home cooks alike, and a universe of spices that excite our taste buds, nourish our cells and satisfy our souls.
Behold the grocery staples that power our editors’ kitchens. True love, no #sponcon.
Maya Kaimal Madras Curry Indian Simmer Sauce
We’re a little obsessed with the flavor packed into this jarred simmer sauce from Maya Kaimal. It tastes nearly as good as the Indian curries we make from scratch! Just add chicken.
Edit Your Life
Edit Your Life
Most of us want to eat healthy family meals and prepare them with a minimum of fuss and expense. That said, not all of us like to cook, and not all of our kids like to eat what we cook. Even those of us who enjoy cooking don’t always have the time. Real life is messy, no matter what our shiny cookbooks and social media feeds say.
In Episode 113 of Edit Your Life, Asha interviews Stacie Billis, managing editor of Cool Mom Eats and author of the cookbook Make It Easy. Listening to Stacie talk about food, cooking, and real-life family meals is a breath of fresh air! Asha and Stacie talk about the tricky storyline around family food (and why Stacie waited years to write her cookbook), her relaxed approach to getting meals on the table, favorite grocery store shortcuts, meal planning tips, and permission to find your own joy of cooking…whatever that looks like to you.
RHINEBECK, N.Y. —� Maya Kaimal Fine Indian Foods, an award-winning specialty food company, continues to evolve its interpretation of modern Indian offerings with the introduction of Organic Everyday Dal pouches.
Dals—the Hindi word for spiced lentils or beans—are available from Maya Kaimal in five delicious varieties that can be eaten as a filling meal on their own or as a side dish. Prepared in a convenient, portable, microwave-friendly pouch, Everyday Dals offer satisfying flavor combinations such as Red Lentil with Butternut Squash + Coconut and Black Lentil with Tomato + Cumin allowing consumers to enjoy nourishing, protein-packed, meatless meals without compromising flavor or time.
“We are building on our commitment to flavorful convenience and clean eating,” said Meena Mansharamani, CEO of Maya Kaimal, referring to the brand’s current lineup of Indian-inspired simmer sauces, Chickpea Chips and Naan Chips, and Spicy Ketchup. She adds, “Our Everyday Dals perfectly fit the growing demand for high-quality, vegan, gluten-free and plant-based meal options.”
Founder Maya Kaimal who—like Mansharamani—grew up eating dals claims, “We wanted to honor the Indian tradition of cooking lentils, but spark them up with ingredients that speak to today’s consumers, like virgin coconut oil, cumin and tamarind.” She suggests, “I think of dal and rice as the ultimate comfort food, but you can eat them with any meal, or dress them up with fresh herbs, toasted nuts, or yogurt.”
For those craving adventurous new flavors, Everyday Dals will bring an exciting taste experience to the table any day of the week. Additional flavors include Green Garbanzos + Corn + Coriander, Kidney Beans + Carrots + Tamarind and Green Split Peas + Spinach + Coconut, all personally developed by Maya.
Bring together your family and friends for an easy and flavorful gathering with Everyday Dals, available now at a suggested retail price (SRP) of $4.99 at leading Natural and Specialty grocers including Sprouts and Natural Grocers, as well as at MayaKaimal.com.
Join the conversation and show us how Maya Kaimal Everyday Dals have become a healthy, convenient staple for you with the hashtag #EverydayDal and tag @MayaKaimalFoods.
About Maya Kaimal
Maya Kaimal, recipient of the prestigious Julia Child Cookbook Award, is the creative force behind a distinguished and innovative line of products inspired by the sophisticated flavors of India. As founder of Maya Kaimal Fine Indian Foods, Maya faithfully translates the traditional home cooking of her Indian family for the modern American table, with love and authenticity. Her flame-baked Naan Chips, her award-winning Chickpea Chips and her best-selling sauces and ketchup are made using premium, all natural ingredients. For more information, visit http://www.mayakaimal.com/. Stay connected to Maya Kaimal: @mayakaimalfoods on Twitter and Instagram and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MayaKaimal/.
Of a Kind
Of a Kind
From the launch of Maya Kaimal, creating the perfect Chickpea Chip and the latest innovation (coming soon!), Maya opens up with the founders of Of a Kind on their podcast. Take a listen and discover something new from the woman behind the brand you love.
The Fridge Light
The Fridge Light
Maya Kaimal’s Chickpea Chips won the “It Snack of 2017” hitting on every single food and snacking trend of 2017!
18 Delicious Whole Foods Items That People Actually Swear By
5 Healthy Sheet-Pan Dinners You’ll Want To Devour:
CHICKEN TIKKA WITH CAULIFLOWER AND CHICKPEAS
Maya Kaimal: Spice Girl
Maya Kaimal: Spice Girl
Maya Kaimal has always loved to cook. As a teenager, she learned how to make South Indian specialties from her Indian father and aunt. As a young woman working in magazine publishing, she translated those skills into a very small business, preparing Indian lunches for colleagues at her office. “That experience showed me how eye-opening it was for people to eat homemade Indian food,” recalls Kaimal, 50. “It didn’t resemble what they were eating in restaurants.”
Guests in the gluten-free camp will enjoy Maya Kaimal’s chickpea chips. Flecked with cumin and red chili, they’re light and delicious.
Every year brings crazy delicious things to munch on….That’s why we’ve found the fifty best for 2014, from the newest farmer’s market obsession to the elevated-toast phenomenon to, yes, the miraculously crispier, can’t-stop-eating-it chip.
EveryDay with Rachael Ray
EveryDay with Rachael Ray
Studded with ingredients like chia and sesame seeds, Maya Kaimal Chickpea Chips add oomph to chips and dip.
Maya Kaimal Chickpea Chips, made with the power legume, taste a little nutty and a lot addictive
One of the healthiest ingredient decks we’ve seen.
The New York Times
The New York Times
To Munch: Well-Seasoned Rounds With an Indian Flair.
“Chickpea chips that define the term addictive.”
Everyday with Rachael Ray
Everyday with Rachael Ray
Dinner Without Borders
Why order in your favorite international dishes when you can whip them up in your own kitchen?
Maya Kaimal Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce makes prepping the creamy Indian dish [pictured] a breeze.
Martha Stewart Living
Martha Stewart Living
Here’s a more exotic option for leftover turkey: Mix it with [Maya Kaimal] simmer sauce for an Indian-inspired dinner that comes together in less than 30 minutes.
Martha Stewart Living
Martha Stewart Living
Style director Ayesha Patel brings a breezy update to a backyard barbecue — infusing some summer favorites with the flavor and feel of her native country.
Toronto National Post
Toronto National Post
Top Rated in Toronto’s National Post spicy ketchup taste test: “It’s so delicious I can think of a thousand ways to use it…This is a real find.”
Every Day with Rachael Ray
Every Day with Rachael Ray
Take the traditional feast into exciting new territory with this Indian-inspired menu. All your favorites — turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce — are here, but our adventurous recipes make them taste brand new!
Head to the international aisle for a host of inspiring yet inexpensive ingredients.
Ghee Club: Maya Kaimal Madras Curry, slightly spicy and very complex, this curry in a jar tastes as satisfying as home-cooked.
Better Homes & Gardens
Better Homes & Gardens
Spice Girl: A good curry has layers of flavors, notes Maya Kaimal, creator of a premium line of South India-inspired sauces bearing her name.
New York’s Curry Queen: Maya Kaimal’s mission is to convince Americans that delicious, authentic curries can be on your table tonight.
The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe
Curry Favor: In South India, the range of taste goes beyond what’s offered in most restaurants here. Now Maya Kaimal Fine Indian Foods has come out with Coconut Curry fresh simmer sauce.
Cookout Condiments: Maya Kaimal Spicy Ketchup. This divine serrano chili- accented sauce takes a grilled-chicken sandwich to delicious new heights.
Food & Wine
Food & Wine
Global Grilling, Indian Ketchup: Maya Kaimal flavors this condiment with warm spices like cumin
Ladies Home Journal
Ladies Home Journal
Curry in a Hurry: One of our five faves…Maya Kaimal Tamarind Curry. Fragrant and mildly spicy with diced onion.
Edible Hudson Valley
Edible Hudson Valley
Selling a Taste of Home: Turning a passion for food into a successful business requires quality ingredients, time-tested recipes—and a whole lot more.
A Family Feast: When cookbook author Maya Kaimal plans a summer barbecue, she’s apt to choose and aromatic lamb dish as her main course…
Flavor Patrol: If Maya Kaimal is right, Americans will soon be as familiar with fresh Indian chutneys as we are with salsas.
Cooking Sauces: Real Simple staffers sampled 101 varieties and found eight that taste as if they were made from scratch.
Tools Cooks Love: Behind every great recipes a beloved kitchen tool…Here six top cooks share their favorite tool.
A Taste of Indian Summer:
Ginger and coriander, coconut and tamarind are the flavors and aromas that evoke the food of South India. And Maya Kaimal is on a mission to introduce that cuisine to America
A hot recipe and national distribution made sales sizzle for this sauce company.
The Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail
Ketchup Catch-Up: In honor of barbecue season, our panel of ketchup connoisseurs tested eight different brands with French fries. Thirty sugary, greasy minutes later, we had a clear winner (not Heinz)…Maya Kaimal Spicy Ketchup
Toronto National Post
Toronto National Post
Three cheers for Maya Kaimal. The winning brand in this test was so far ahead of the others that it seemed to belong to another species.
Dream Job: How this incredible cook turned her talent into cash
To make our recipe even faster, skip the spices and go straight to Maya Kaimal’s fresh vegetarian simmer sauces. We especially like the Vindaloo and Tikka Masala.
Artisanal Food, Our 15 Picks: #2 MAYA KAIMAL: Her rich and spicy South India heritage flavors every drop of Kaimal’s authentic curries
Food & Wine
Food & Wine
Cookbook author Maya Kaimal has a deft hand with Indian sauces.
Sauciest Indian Flavors: Maya Kaimal Fresh Simmer Sauces taste as if a good Indian home cook had prepared them. One did.
One of the hottest new products at October’s Natural Products Expo.
Passionately Picky: These fresh, Indian simmer-sauces are a rare find.
Maya Kaimal’s flavor-intense Indian sauces take the pain out of mastering exotic flavors.
A single taste—sweet, fiery, delicately tart—conjures images of faraway places, lush and exotic.
Divine Curry: Maya Kaimal has made authentic Indian food available to everyone.
Second-generation Indians are going beyond the ordinary and redefining the Indian identity… Maya Kaimal just ventured into a flourishing Indian food business.
The New York Times
The New York Times
Ms. Kaimal has done all the heavy lifting, so the cook doesn’t have to toast, grind or blend the spices and other sauce ingredients.
Business 2 Community
Business 2 Community
Instead of Tortilla Chips, try… Maya Kaimal Naan Sea Salt Chips First introduced to India by Persians more than 700 years ago, Naan has become a staple of Indian cuisine. Maya Kaimal have recreated the classic Indian flatbread in this tender, versatile chip.
Light and flame-baked, Maya Kaimal’s naan chips are made with whole grain flour and topped with a hint of all-natural sea salt. Great on their own, or paired with hummus, cheese, or guacamole.
They call it bliss in a chip – take a bite and see why.