Spice of life

Cuisine

June 1, 2021



Angry Nani’s authentic Indian tea and spice blends are based on beloved family recipes. 

by Michael J. Solender

When Smita Patel and Nimisha Srivastava teamed up in May 2020 to launch Angry Nani, a purveyor of Indian spice blends and teas, the mother-daughter duo looked to bring authentic flavors and recipes for foods Indian families have enjoyed for centuries to Charlotte. 

“My mom came to Charlotte from New Jersey two years ago after my father passed away,” says Srivastava, a research executive for a financial-services advisory firm. “She is an amazing cook, and friends and family simply love her food. She was constantly asked for recipes, her chutney, [her] tea and spice blends. We thought, ‘There’s an opportunity here.’ Angry Nani (a nickname for an Indian grandmother) grew out of that and gave Nani a new focus and purpose to take on as she settled here.”

While the ‘angry’ moniker is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Patel’s strong opinions and direct communication style, she’s positively joyful when sharing recipes, food-preparation techniques and the purported ayurvedic health benefits of the various masalas (spice mixes) she handcrafts for her growing legion of fans.

“Perceptions of what Indian food is like is evolving,” Srivastava says. “People are coming to recognize much of our food is vegetarian, naturally gluten-free and healthful. Through the freshness of ingredients and complexities of blended spices, incredible flavors result.”

Nani, a retired pharmacologist, carefully creates custom blends that draw from the likes of dried red chiles, cardamom, nutmeg, coriander, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, bay leaves, garlic, turmeric, mango powder, black peppercorns, cinnamon, dried neem leaves and more.

Her teas, or chai, meet Nani’s exacting quality standards, some coming from fifth-generation growers in India’s tea-growing region. Organic Chai Spice features ginger powder, cardamom, Ceylon cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and black peppercorn. The organic Assam Tea made using Nani’s CTC (cut-tear-curl) processing method is so special, its creators say, it is known as the tea “other teas are jealous of.”

Two special kits — Biryani Rice and Pudla, a Gujarati-style savory crepe made with chickpea flour — are bestsellers and come with spices and step-by-step directions. Nani offers serving suggestions as well and, with an almost angry wink, wants customers to know, “If you don’t like it, you are doing it wrong.”

Nani feels strongly about giving back, and a portion of the company’s profits contribute to the Nomi Network, an India-based organization that provides life- and technical-skills training for women at risk for human trafficking.  SP

WHERE TO BUY: Products start at $14 and are sold at angrynani.com. In season, you can find Angry Nani most Saturdays at the Uptown Farmers Market.

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