Living in a home with parents who enjoyed cooking and celebrating the diverse cuisines from their different backgrounds, food has been a central part of my life while growing up – Sulaiman Sajahan
Sulaiman Sajahan and Basil Sajahan, who have grown up in Hong Kong celebrating the variety of Indian spices in everyday meals have now started a venture called SPICEMRKT. An online market that caters to the increased demand for authentic, high-quality spice blends, especially for home cooked meals.
And HKYantoYan.com being the “Anything Indian Fanatics”, we could not help but reach out to Mr Sulaiman Sajahan to get some insight on this exciting new venture.
1. Tell us about yourself and your background.
I grew up in Hong Kong in a mixed household. My father immigrated from South India and my mother from the Philippines. Living in a home with parents who enjoyed cooking and celebrating the diverse cuisines from their different backgrounds, food has been a central part of my life while growing up. Our home has also been the centre for most major holiday gatherings be it Indian, Filipino or even Chinese, which were celebrated around a table filled with different dishes. I saw the crucial role food played in crossing cultural barriers and felt firsthand how food could help me define myself as a “third culture kid” growing up in Hong Kong.
2. How did SpiceMrkt come about? When are you planning to launch?
My brother, Basil, and I have seen how the interest in Indian home cooking has been rising. We have also seen products on the market that give an illusion that the home cooked Indian meal requires only a simple curry powder. Authentic Indian dishes are labour intensive and require a long list of spices that can seem intimidating to a home cook who is new to Indian recipes. By eliminating the hassle of searching for each spice and putting it together in an easy to understand and still authentic manner, we hope to bring Indian home cooking to kitchens around the world as the go-to brand representing a cuisine worth celebrating. We have launched our website for the Hong Kong market in January 2019 and hope to announce a worldwide launch soon.
3. What are some of the product ranges that you plan to introduce in the HK market? Where can people buy the products?
We have worked with chefs to create authentic spice blends that are sold separately or in our spice kits. We also offer individually packaged spices, a variety of Indian rice (basmati, ponni, idly), dals/lentils and organic flour and oil. Customers can find these products on our website: www.spicemrkt.com.
4. Where did you find most of your inspiration? Indian or Filipino or both?
We have been deeply influenced by both sides of our family where home cooking has long been celebrated. For SPICEMRKT specifically, we have been inspired to change the face of Indian cooking and introduce it to kitchens worldwide.
5. What is your favourite Indian restaurant in HK and why?
It is quite difficult to choose just one so, some of my favourite restaurants are Anjappar for South Indian food, Gaylord for North Indian food, and Sangeetha for vegetarian food. I enjoy each one for their specialty dishes.
6. What is the 2019 plan for SPICEMRKT?
The plan for 2019 is to exhibit our approach to Indian home cooking through pop-ups and various outdoor markets around Hong Kong. We want people to experience the fun side of cooking with numerous spices. So, if you want to spice up your cooking, be on the lookout for our posted events.
High on temptations, we already placed our orders for the Tadka Dal & Chana Masala Spice Kit. What are you waiting for?