Today, a few days before what would have been my grandmother Mrs Balbir Singh’s 105th birthday, we are so very proud to launch our online store.
Those of you who know us know just how much of a journey we've been on to get to this point with our first gift-set of Classic North Indian Curry Spice Blends ready to sell online. Initially a few false starts over the years, on whether we launch with a recipe app, or even redesign and release her classic book. Still managing to get nearly 25,000 Facebook likes, and visits from over 50 countries to our initial informational website. It's been very heartwarming to see all the interest, and get lovely messages from people around the world who remember her classes, or have been cooking from her books for decades.
All our research with friends and family kept leading back to two main points. Firstly, they would love to be able to have access to these world-class homestyle recipes and experience the dishes. But secondly, that the biggest pain point was that because of all the time and hassle it takes to find all the various and good quality spices, and then measure, toast and grind and mix them, etc. they might not cook the recipes as frequently as they would like. It’s apparently one of the reasons people only really cook a very small percentage of the recipes from the cookbooks that they buy! Plus you would have to overbuy what you need and you end up with all sorts of spices sitting in your cupboard, which in many cases will have lost their potency and freshness after a while.
Wanting to fit in with today’s busier lifestyles, but not compromise on taste and authenticity, and still continue my grandmother’s mission of empowering people to cook great quality Indian food at home, we finally hit upon the idea for launching the spice blends that you see on our site today. Unlike many spice blend companies ours come with world-class homestyle Mrs Balbir Singh recipes, without with the huge long list of spices that you’ll need, as we’ve already done that part for you. We don’t compromise either though, every spice that my grandmother wanted in these dishes is in our blends in just the right proportions. Also as we all know with Indian food it’s not just the quality of the other ingredients you use, but the spices that provide the main flavour.
After much back and forth over the idea, we eventually took our home batches of the blends beyond our kitchen and created slightly larger but still artisan-size batches each time. Then there’s been all the trialling and tastings, which has been the fun part with our friends and family! I am glad to say that my Ammi’s recipes have very much stood the test of time according to everyone we’ve bounced this off from our trips back to the family home in Delhi, and here in the UK. It certainly has us all remembering and reminiscing about the good old days with her.
We've gone through launching a design competition for the labels, which unfortunately only ended up with very clichéd ‘ethnic’ looking designs. Then having found the wonderful Esteban, a designer across the other side of the world working with him was great, and very rewarding in the end, and we hope you agree! We worked in such detail, right down to wanting to ensure we incorporated the flowers I remembered on the path and wall outside my grandmother's home into the designs. We of course have had to painstakingly finding the right spices to do the recipes justice, and of course a good place to toast, grind and blend these wonderful blend recipes together.
Then while sourcing tins, we had our supplier who had been promising us our initial few hundred tin order from their apparently 20,000+ stock for months let us down at the very last minute! We of course then had a mad dash to find alternative tins, which thanks to a friend we had made earlier in the process, we managed to avert a crisis and not have to delay our launch until next year, thanks Johnny! However, because these new tins were a tiny bit different in size, we then needed to change the labels and tweak the designs… only to spot some errors late and so having to getting reprints done! Who knew?
Remembering my grandmother's focus and dedication, and her having to go through really hard things like the Partition of India, and moving to London for a few years as early as 1950, and then all the daily classes she gave without fail for decades on her return to Delhi, very much put our little project into perspective for me though...and so we ploughed on and here we are, finally!
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