Indian flavors heat up at Winter Fancy Food

by Monica Watrous
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Bandar Foods features Indian-inspired snacks and condiments for an everyday American audience.

SAN FRANCISCO — Traditional Indian flavors and ingredients are trending in new products featured at the Winter Fancy Food Show, held Jan. 22-24 in San Francisco, where exhibitors showcased such items as baked naan chips, frozen lassi and quick-brewing masala chai.

An increasingly diverse U.S. population has fueled demand for authentic and globally inspired dishes. Packaged food brands are harnessing the complex flavors of Indian cuisine, as well as Ayurvedic herbs and spices (hello, turmeric!), in snacks, sauces, beverages and more.

Offering a contemporary spin on such staples such as naan and chutney, Bandar Foods, Inc., Philadelphia, features Indian-inspired snacks and condiments for an everyday American audience. A line of baked Naan Chips is a twist on the classic Indian flatbread with 60% less fat than traditional pita chips and available in such flavors as tikka masala and garlic. The company also makes Poppadums, which are Indian-inspired lentil chips in original cumin and black pepper flavors.

Brooklyn Delhi's condiments combine traditional Indian flavors and local produce.

Additionally, Bandar Foods developed a first-of-its-kind squeezable Indian chutney in such flavors as spicy mango and mint cilantro that may be used as a condiment on mainstay American dishes such as fries and pizza. 

Another range of Indian-inspired condiments comes from Brooklyn Delhi, Brooklyn, N.Y. The brand is the brainchild of husband-and-wife team Chitra Agrawal and Ben Garthus, who specialize in making achaar, a flavorful relish of fruits, vegetables, spices, chili peppers and oil. Combining traditional Indian flavors and local produce, varieties include tomato, roasted garlic and rhubarb ginger and may be used on curry and rice, tacos, sandwiches and burgers, or in soups, sautés, marinades and more.

Described as authentic Indian spiced popcorn, Portland, Ore.-based Masala Pop flavors include original Indian spice, chai caramel, savory coconut and caramel rose. The ready-to-eat popcorn brand recently was acquired by 4Him Food Group, L.L.C., parent company of Cosmos Creations, a brand of puffed corn snacks. Founder Neha Patel said the product line was inspired by her mother, who years ago began spicing popcorn in the tradition of the food cart vendors in her native India.

Dahlicious offers a range of traditional Indian yogurt-based drinks.

Tipu’s Chai, Polson, Mont., features founder Bipin Patel’s grandmother’s recipe for authentic Indian chai in a range of convenient formats, including single-serve packets in original, espresso and green tea flavors; a quick-brew line in original, unsweetened, soy latte, chocolate, cocoa mint and espresso; and a slow-brew line in original and decaf. Mr. Patel began serving the tea in his Missoula, Mont., restaurant 20 years ago, spurring demand at other restaurants, local businesses and coffee shops. He has since sold the restaurant to focus on building the brand. 

Lassi, a traditional Indian yogurt-based drink blended with herbs and spices, is reimagined in a range of unique flavor offerings from Dahlicious, L.L.C., Leominster, Mass. Made with organic grass-fed milk and little to no added sugar, varieties include alphonso mango, golden turmeric, cucumber mint lemon, cinnamon toasted basamati, island ginger, chocolate garam masala and banana masala.

Monsieur Singh offers lassi in a first-of-its-kind frozen format.

Another brand at the show, Monsieur Singh, L.L.C., New York, offers lassi in a first-of-its-kind frozen format. Available in pints and push pops, varieties include pineapple banana, passion chia, honey lemon and mango.

First-time exhibitor Pranayums, Glendale, Calif., produces Ayurvedic spice blends featuring turmeric, ginger, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and licorice root in single-serve packets that may be added to coffee, smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal and more. Founder Sabena Kammula Sarma drew inspiration for the product from her mother’s spice box, which “always served as our family’s medicine cabinet,” she said.
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