The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this product review was not sponsored or paid for. However, the product maker did provide products for review purposes.
Desis love condiments; it seems that no food is complete without at least one type of sauce. Forget simple mayonnaise or one-note ballpark mustard; the condiment shelf in the fridge or cabinet of many Desi homes is generally full to bursting with date chutneys, tamarind chutneys, mint/cilantro sauces, and about as many types of pickles as there are vegetables.
Chitra Agrawal, condiment maker and author of the cookbook Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn, seems to understand the nuance and sauce expertise that Indian cuisine brings to the proverbial table. As such, she has decided to fuse this expertise with beloved American condiments in her Brooklyn Delhi series of sauces, available on the website and since June, in Whole Foods stores. The series is comprised of two more traditionally Desi sauces (the Tomato Achaar and Roasted Garlic Achaar), and two Western sauces with a Desi kick — the Curry Ketchup and Curry Mustard.
I tried the Curry Ketchup and Curry Mustard from Brooklyn Delhi. I was particularly excited about the Curry Mustard; anyone who knows me knows my intense love for mustards of all kinds and my propensity to put it on everything and, in my more shameful moments, eat it on its own.
“I used this expertise as a raw mustard eater to evaluate the Curry Mustard as a standalone sauce.”
I used this expertise as a raw mustard eater to evaluate the Curry Mustard as a standalone sauce. It wasn’t immediately too different from a spicy brown mustard or a grainy-style mustard one would serve with soft pretzels, but the flavor was a little deeper; there was more sweetness, an extra garlicky kick, and a hint of spice.
For its true test, however, I had to determine how well this mustard played with other foods, so I added it to one of my other favorite foods of all time — a caramelized onion grilled cheese sandwich. Here, the mustard really got a chance to sing; it perfectly accentuated the sweetness and savoriness of the onions and cheese, and elevated the sandwich in a way that no mustard I’ve tried to date has.
Despite my love for the Curry Mustard, I will admit I was a little less excited to try the Curry Ketchup. In my youth, I was a Maggi ketchup fiend; I slathered that sweet-spicy Desi ketchup on everything from fried potatoes (yum!) to my mom’s upma (ew.)
Suddenly though, as I matured, the flavor of that ketchup — and all ketchups, really — became too one-note for me. Ketchup seemed to have an artificial sweetness, a vinegar-based sourness that I just found boring. Even the German-style curry ketchup served at some restaurants couldn’t bring me back around to ketchup; to me, it just tasted like store-bought curry powder mixed with bland, processed ketchup.
“This achaar-infused ketchup is more akin to a tomato chutney than any other ketchup you’d get at the grocery store.”
When I first tasted the Brooklyn Delhi Curry Ketchup, then, my surprise was nearly unquantifiable. I had the ketchup as a side with vegetables coated with a chickpea flour batter and deep fried –- bajjis! — and it elevated them the way no other ketchup has before. In fact, this achaar-infused ketchup is more akin to a tomato chutney than any other ketchup you’d get at the grocery store — it has a slightly chunky texture, and visible seasoning, something you don’t get with other ketchups. The flavor is sweet and sour, but the sour feels more tomato-based than vinegar based; this sweet-sour flavor is also cut nicely by the freshness and light spicy of ginger.
I loved the ketchup so much that I found myself reaching for the bottle every time I made eggs or potatoes, and I’m excited to find new ways to incorporate it into my meals.
The Brooklyn Delhi Curry Ketchup and Curry Mustard are, then, a natural addition to the pantheon of condiments in many Desi kitchens. They work and play equally well as sauces on American dishes such as burgers and fries — try swapping regular mustard on your burger for the Curry Mustard — you won’t regret it!, and as chutneys to go with spicy Desi snacks. They may just become the most versatile condiments in your pantry.
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Rashmi Venkatesh is a pharmacologist who now works behind a desk and lives in the Metro D.C. area. Her interests include feminism, pop science, South Asian diasporic culture and media, and biryani. Find her on Twitter at @rashmiv11.