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Hidden Gems: Meet Punita Patel of Modern Masala

Today we’d like to introduce you to Punita Patel.

Hi Punita, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
We basically grew up embracing every culture we were around. My mom was born in Mozambique, raised in India; my dad was born in India raised in England; and my brother and I were born in England, raised in the USA (Downey, CA). But my passion for food and cooking came after meeting my husband (24 years ago), we love to travel, try new foods and meet new people. My ‘day job’ as I call it is fairly demanding, I am the Director of Finance and Human Resources for an architecture firm. And I absolutely love what I do!! I started blending spices at home for a few reasons: After a long day at work, I still wanted to cook dinner for my family but needed it to be quick and easy to use (not just for myself, but also my son and husband to cook). I wanted to make blends where I could control the quality of ingredients, leaving out unnecessary fillers, additives and preservatives. And because I enjoy blending cultures and my experiences through my food. My spice blends have really evolved over the past ten years to what is now a rewarding spice company. I have learned a lot over the years and am grateful to have the opportunity to share my passion with others.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
We all have our own journey that leads us to today and guides us through tomorrow! Mine is no different than most, a roller coaster filled with love, heartache, success, loss, ups and downs… I won’t get into the personal losses or health issues, but I will divulge on the struggles that lead me to becoming Chef Punita (my alter ego). Ten plus years ago, my husband and I owned a restaurant, that through circumstances I became the Head Chef. My background is in accounting and law, I did not aspire to be a chef, it was just a passion that broke free when I became the Head Chef. There have been a few articles published regarding the food, which was labeled as California Indian Cuisine, for its modern approach to what most people think of as Indian food.

I am proud to see restaurants, bloggers and influencers now serving and cooking what once was thought of as crazy (especially the restaurants now serving modern Indian food). The restaurant was brutal for our family, we worked 16+ hour days and barely survived the losses. My son spent most of his time at the restaurant, and we didn’t have any quality time together as a family. It was more, get your homework done, take him to karate, then drop him off at the grandparents so they can watch him and get him to bed on time. It was not the life I/we wanted for our son. Closing the restaurant was bittersweet but something that we had to do. Of course, with that came the financial hole we had to slowly dig ourselves out of. But ten years later, we are stronger as a family for it.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Modern Masala?
My vision is to see others create dishes of their own with the ideas, techniques and spice blends I have put my heart and soul into. I have traveled the world and tried some unique spices and recipes. Through my spice blends, I hope to make dinner uncomplicated while still sharing some amazing food experiences with other foodies. Modern Masala currently offers spice blends from Lemon Pepper to Spice It Up. You can simply sprinkle on a protein/vegetable and cook; or get a little more fancy by enhancing your favorite recipes. We also offer Easy Meals spice blends and rice mixes, which are pre-portioned blends with recipes to make cooking that much easier, recipes are generally 4-6 servings. They range from Chicken Tikka to Jamaican Me Crazy (a jerk chicken blend) to Doro Wat (a spicy Ethiopian stew/curry blend). These blends make cooking super easy without the compromise in flavor. We pride ourselves on sustainable sourcing. Herb, spice and other food ingredients we source for our products must meet strict standards we have defined for individual ingredients.

Organic products are at the heart of our sustainable sourcing efforts. We believe organic agriculture is a crucial element in building a safe and sustainable international food supply; and that the basic values of organic agriculture are crucial to the well-being of us all. Fair Trade products ensure fair wages and working conditions for farmers and workers, and there’s also an additional premium generated that’s used for projects that benefit the community at large. One of the sustainability values championed by our co-op partner is “impact sourcing” — purchasing our spices in a way that creates a positive impact on people and communities. Our purchases from co-ops and other socially and environmentally responsible sources help support and spread the positive values. We have discovered you can connect with anyone in this world with a simple smile and warm food. Some of our fondest memories are around the kitchen island, cooking, eating and enjoying the company of family, friends and even strangers. Spice up your life with Modern Masala Spices and explore the world with us…

What does success mean to you?
Success to me is the ability to enjoy what you love and being surrounded by loved ones.

Pricing:

  • ‘Easy Meals’ spice blends start at $1.75/packet
  • ‘Spice bottles’ start at $6/3oz bottle
  • ‘Rice mixes’ start at $4 each

Contact Info:

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