It’s a beautiful winters morning in Harrogate. Syndi, Annie ,Elsie and I are out on a walk around Christ Church. As we walk we chat and inevitably the conversation turns to one of my favourite subjects, food. Syndi is co founder of Ashuran Spices and passionate about good food and cooking. Born in Uganda of a Kenyan mother and Indian father made meals around at Syndi’s home something a little out of the ordinary.
”I started helping my mother grind the spices we used in cooking when I was just five, and began cooking at seven,” Syndi explained. ”As I grew up, I continued to make the foods we used to eat when I was a child. Friends would often ask for my recipes and I would make them up little packs of spices and write out the method so they could make the different meals at home. This happened so much that I thought, hey, I think I could make a business out of this and Ashuran Spices was born.
Syndi’s husband Graham’s father is a designer engineer and together they came up with the pyramid design packaging.
”I wanted the ingredients to be visible so people could see what they were buying.” Syndi told me. ”We wrote the recipe on the inside of the label and the different ways that it could be cooked. Each recipe can be prepared quickly or giving instructions on how to cook it in a slow cooker, on the hob, in the oven or aga. It’s important to be able to fit into different peoples lifestyles.”
”We came up with the concept in 2009 and by 2010 we were ready to launch with our core product, the Indian range. Leng’s grocers on Cold Bath Road were our first customers and then followed the newly opened Fodder. Harrogate Borough Council were very helpful whilst we were setting up. They seem to really want small businesses to succeed and we found Trading Standards were great too. Advice was free and the staff were helpful. Now along with other retail outlets we also have our online shop www.asharunspices.com where customers can come, browse and buy directly from us.”
I asked Syndi what made Ashuran Spices special? She told me,” we temper and grind all our own spices, so you get the whole essence of the spice from the mixes that you buy. All the flavour and all the goodness is preserved ready to be made into fabulous meals at home. Spices when ground over time they begin to loose their essence. We create our blends to order, so our customers know that the spices are fresh. I hand grind them using an electric grinder based on the traditional method of stone grinding and the spices are tempered till they just start to crackle and realease all their amazing aroma.”
Once the Indian core range took off Ashuran Spices started looking at ranges from different cultures. Next came the Mexican then Moroccan and now Lebanese. Syndi likes to test out her blends on people from that country and will only go ahead once they get the authentic thumbs up.
”Good food doesn’t need to be expensive,” She tells me. ” A lot of our recipes are either vegetarian/vegan or use some of the lesser known cheaper cuts of meat that can be slow cooked for tenderness. It’s warming, healthy and feeds not only your belly but your soul too.”
I asked Syndi what the future holds?
She smiles,”Looking forwards we are hoping to set up a cookery school, I am writing a cookery book and we would love to take a trip and follow the spice trail. ”
Knowing Syndi and Graham, with their verve for life, I bet they will do it all and more. It makes me hungry just thinking about it.