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Local Vendor Spotlight: Kala’s Kuisine

Owner and founder Kala Uprety gives us the inner scoop about her delicious authentic Nepalese + Fusion vegetarian food!

1. How and why did Kala’s Kuisine get started?

In 1973, when I first came to the US as a student, I always dreamed of being in the food business. My grandparents had a brown sugar and molasses factory in Nepal, and I was always enjoyed seeing them turn raw ingredients into healthy, natural treats. 20 years later, while working as a computer programmer, I brainstormed ideas of what type of food I would want to sell. Then, while I was traveling abroad in Europe with my husband, I saw that there was packaged vegetarian food that was easy to grab and go. This made it very easy for me to eat abroad, whereas I had a difficult time finding interesting vegetarian options to eat at home. I saw an opportunity in the Austin market to create healthy vegetarian food that combined flavors from my home country of Nepal with the flavors native to Texas. I started with a few fresh products that were twists on traditional Nepalese dishes. By taking these traditional recipes and adding southwestern ingredients, I created a taste that was unique to Kala's Kuisine. Beyond fresh food, we have expanded our offering to include a variety of salsas, chutneys, pestos, hot sauces and fermented products. We started by supplying our fusion products to local grocery stores like Wheatsville co-op and other premier health food stores and now also operate booths at the 3 main Austin farmers markets every week.

2. Tell us a bit about the fusion flavors.

We sell a wide variety of products from fresh foods to fermented products, all with unique combinations of flavors that fuse influences from the East and West. For instance, our Roti Wraps and Saag Wraps combine a tortilla filled with curry-spiced vegetables making them both twists on the taco/burrito concept, but with eastern flavors.

Samosas, our most popular product, are filled with a potato and vegetable mixture that is seasoned to appeal to the western palate. The blend of spices is unique to Kala's Kuisine and offers a milder curry flavor than traditional Samosas.

Our Pasta Salads, Nepali Pasta Salad and Saag Pasta, take traditional dishes and mix them with pasta to create two brand new concepts, not available anywhere else. Saag Pasta, for example, has a nut-free spinach pesto base tossed with great northern beans and semolina rainbow noodles. This creates a tangy-spicy flavor in a cold noodle salad. Our Nepali Pasta Salad starts with a tomato-carrot based "spaghetti sauce" with eastern spices that make it unique to us. This sauce base is mixed with almonds and angel hair semolina noodles to create a milder spiced cold salad.

All of our salsas have a combination of eastern and western flavors that make them completely original. Our Curry-Chipotle and Mirchi Masala salsas, for example, combine Nepalese curry spices with the peppery flavors of the southwest to create flavor-filled hot sauces. Our newest addition, fermented products, are age old traditional Nepalese recipes that use western techniques to create crispy condiments that spice up any dish.

3. What are your favorite accompaniments to your food?

The great thing about all of our products is their versatility. I could name over twenty ways you could use each of our salsas, hot sauces and fermented products to create unique and interesting dishes. Here are a few of my favorite combinations:
Our Samosas pair perfectly with our Mango Chutney making an appetizer combination of salty, spicy and sweet that is impossible to resist. If you want to create a new take on a TexMex dinner, take our Mirchi Masala salsa, add some sour cream and pour over your favorite enchiladas for a Nepalese twist. For a flavorful breakfast with some extra kick, try adding our Curry-Chipotle salsa to some scrambled eggs. Then add some cheese and your favorite sautéed vegetables and you have a spicy breakfast taco.

You can also get creative with our condiment products by using them in surprising ways to add additional flavor to a variety of dishes. Our Pestos are great for tossing with pasta, spreading over naan or mixing with brown rice and vegetables for a healthy lunch bowl. Fermented products have a ton of unique uses apart from being great garnishes. Kimchi radishes are a great addition to salads or rice to add texture and tang. Carrot and Ruby krout are both tasty condiments that spice up any simple sandwich. For a unique salad dressing, combine our Lemon Preserve with Italian herbs and olive oil and pour over your choice of mixed greens.

4. How long have you been selling your food at Wheatsville?

Over 20 years. We started with fresh foods, expanded with our salsas and hot sauces, and have recently added our fermented products to our assortment. Striving to provide unique and interesting flavor combinations in every product, we have been working closely with Wheatsville to curate a collection that appeals to their clientele.

5. What is your favorite thing about Wheatsville?

Our favorite thing about Wheatsville is the environment. It is absolutely a joy to work with such friendly people who have supported Kala's Kuisine from the very beginning. They always provide us with great shelf space and they are inviting to local vendors like us as opposed to other grocery stores that ignore local vendors and focus on mass market brands.

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