Food & dining

These sauces are simmered in history

When you open a jar of Meal Mantra’s Simmer Sauces, you’re greeted with the warm fragrance of garam masala, the classic Indian spice mix of cardamom, cumin, cloves, ground peppercorns, and more. Meal Mantra is a new company founded by Tarun and Anu Bhalla, Newton residents. The couple moved three years ago from Delhi with two children. They produce three vibrant sauces — Tikka Masala, Goan Curry, and Indian Curry — to create Indian-style dishes or add an intriguing taste to other foods, such as pasta, which can soak up their flavors ($7 to $9 for 10 ounces). The Tikka Masala is creamy with a slight kick from chili peppers, while the Goan Curry is chunky and also has the delicate tang of lemongrass and Kaffir lime. Cardamom is a distinct flavor in the Indian Curry sauce. The origin of the sauces goes back to Anu’s grandfather, the famous Delhi chef Kundan Lal Gujral. He’s known as the creator of tandoori cuisine and favorites like butter chicken and dal makhani, a creamy dish with black lentils. Gujral was also the inspiration for the well-known dish chicken tikka masala. Meal Mantra’s Tikka Masala sauce is his exact recipe, says Anu. “I haven’t made any changes.” Gujral was a partner in the legendary restaurant Moti Mahal in Delhi, visited by dignitaries from around the world. Anu learned much at the side of her grandfather, who would take her as a young girl into the kitchens. Anu remembers, “My grandfather would say close your eyes and try to imagine what you’re eating. He taught me to smell, taste, and understand ingredients.” Developing the sauces is the first step for the Bhallas into the food business. “Creativity is in my blood. The next step is a small restaurant,” Anu says. Available at Volante Farms, 292 Forest St., Needham, 781-444-2351; Verrill Farm, 11 Wheeler Road, Concord, 978-369-4494; Wilson Farm, 10 Pleasant St., Lexington, 781-862-3900; Idylwilde Farms, 366 Central St., Acton, 978-263-5943; or go to www.mealmantra.com.
ANN TRIEGER KURLAND

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