Aug 06, 2013

A Splash of Spice, A Cup of Rice

Imagine this: everyone is coming home from work and school in 30 minutes, the house is in disarray; you’re balancing your cell phone with your spatula and happen to slip on a banana peel that escaped from the compost box. What gives! Breathe easy: Gourmantra Foods Inc. has you covered in the kitchen.

This new line of Indian spice mixes was started by an Indian family in Markham, Ontario. Each meal kit is a complete meal that contains rice, spice blends, and sauces and serves three to four people. The kit is the “closest thing to cooking from scratch,” says business owner Rachna Prasad. Gourmantra currently boasts four rich North Indian flavours including butter chicken, tandoori, korma and channa masala. Each kit comes with a description of the dish, specific directions on how to prepare it and a spice rating, ranging from mild to hot to suit your tastebuds.

Gourmantra is the brainchild of Rekha, Rachna and Mona Prasad. Rachna says that running a family business and working alongside her mother Rekha and sister Mona has been a great experience, “Each one of us brings something very unique to the table.” Rekha is in charge of bringing new flavours to the market and to the dinner table. She ensures the quality of the spices used and usually has the final say in whether or not a flavour will be successful. The methodical Mona, with her science background, takes the potential recipes and measures them to scale in terms of their viability. Rachna is the face of Gourmantra, responsible for its public relations, sales and marketing functions. The entrepreneurial spirit of the Prasad women is a natural progression of their personalities and converts into passion and enthusiasm for their voyage into the Indian food market.

These unique gourmet meal kits are for the well-traveled urban individual who has been exposed to Indian food. Their customers include a wide crossover of cultures, as most Canadians have been exposed to ethnic foods. This novel idea has also caught the attention of second generation Indians, women and men alike, who don’t always have time to make authentic dishes from scratch but love the flavours of home. Rachna explains that men have been using the Gourmantra meal kits to surprise their wives or significant others, and it is an easy fix for experienced and inexperienced cooks alike. Natural-born chefs, the Prasads have encountered cooks once wary of packaged products–especially some of the aunties, Rachna notes–who are now embracing the authentic Indian flavours that Gourmantra offers.

Contrary to many Indian mothers’ advice of ‘put in a pinch of this and a dash of that’, Rachna divulges that unlike her mother, she cannot figure out which spice goes with which dish. She claims that with a step-by-step method consisting of pre-measured spices and blends, anyone can make a gourmet-style meal in 30 minutes from the comfort of his or her own kitchen. Making such a rich and lavish dish in under 30 minutes is normally unheard of with Indian cuisine, at least for those who are less inclined to spend hours in the kitchen and are always-on-the-go. Rachna jokes that her superhero is the Gourmantra Guru who takes bland everyday meals and jazzes them up in no time with just a splash of spice and a cup of rice.

The Gourmantra line of mixes is currently available in Ontario and the Prasads hope to distribute the products across Canada by mid 2008 and into Europe, Japan and Australia in the near future. In the works are four more blends, possible synergies with banquet halls and delis, a cookbook, and even a possible show featuring how to jazz up your meal while creating quick delicious dishes through their ready-made kits.



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