John David (JD) Walsh and Shireen Qadri are the cofounders, co-CEOs, and married life partners who concocted and realized the company Moji Masala, which in Kashmiri means “Mom’s spice blend.” The authentic South Asian spice blend recipes come directly from Qadri’s mother. Each single-serving spice packet is labeled with simple instructions for cooking, and also a QR code that takes you directly to a website with a video showing you how to create a specific Indian dish that can feed about three to five people.
“Our mission is to bring you spice blends that allow you to recreate the recipes of South Asian moms from all over the subcontinent,” says Walsh. “Our one-packet product is designed to create one dish resulting in no leftovers or waste. We aim to make it easy for people to cook great Indian food regularly, so that they can incorporate into their menu weekly or monthly.”
All Moji Masala spice blends are fresh-ground, produced in small batches and hand-packed. Most recipes are ready in 30 minutes, which is less time than it takes to order and receive restaurant delivery – and a lot cheaper. There are currently 12 varieties of Moji Masala spice blends available for meat lovers, vegetarians, and vegans.
Walsh and Qadri came up with the idea for Moji Masala when they realized that simply collecting all of the 7 to 15 spices required for most South Asian dishes poses an insurmountable hurdle for many people. Furthermore, it can be frustrating to sort through thousands of recipes online to find ones that are authentic and delicious. Finally, meal prep can be too cumbersome and take too long.
Qadri sourced all the recipes for the spice blends and the final dishes from her own mother and aunties. She then spent two years perfecting the recipes and simplifying the cooking process without compromising on flavor. During that time, she and Walsh also came up with a short list of spice suppliers that met their standards of extremely high quality, fresh spices. All suppliers also had to demonstrate a commitment to working with farmers who are environmentally and socially conscious, paying fair wages. With only one exception, the spices are certified organic, grown with minimal use of pesticides, non-irradiated and non-fumigated.
“It’s extremely rare to find Indian spice blends that are this, clean, fresh and healthy,” says Qadri. “None of these steps were easy!” She calls Moji Masala “a beautiful product born out of our cross-cultural existence and passion for Indian food, and the accompanying joy and community that comes with feeding people this delectable cuisine.”
Before founding Moji Masala, Walsh spent five years working all over India to bring the game of basketball to the country. Much of his work was in coordination with the US Department of State in the sport diplomacy program. Qadri worked in finance for 20 years as an equity analyst and an investor. But this company, they feel, is their life purpose.
“When you pursue your life’s work, you take joy in the big highs, can manage through challenges with optimism, and can plug away at the series of daily tasks that need to be performed well. None of it feels overwhelming because we are in this together,” says Walsh. Even the work-life balance doesn’t strike him and Qadri as an issue. “The lines between personal and work life blur. This suits us just fine, and we don’t try that hard to separate.”
To young people looking to pursue their passion, Qadri says, “Don’t quit your day job too quickly. Use every ounce of free time to try out your passionate ideas. Sleep less, skip a vacation, fund your dreams and see where it takes you.” Walsh has a different approach. He says to take the vacation – just take your laptop with you. “You’ll grow from travel and find answers out there!”
Most importantly, they say, “Be all in with what is important to you. Then see if there is a business that can be made from that. Technically, we would add that you should learn accounting and understand the numbers behind the business you are operating. Keep learning!”
This article can also be read on Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/meimeifox/2022/04/07/moji-masala-aims-to-make-cooking-indian-food-easy/?sh=7ccedee019e9
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