As she stirs the bright yellow curry simmering on the stove in front of her, Madhuri Sharma, 32, lets me in on a little culinary secret.
“Cashew paste is actually a great way to make something creamy without adding any cream,” Madhuri says, her voice confident from years of culinary school. She grabs a small plastic cup of pre-measured paste from the counter, dumps it into the curry, and continues to stir.
The nut purée starts to dissolve. Suddenly, the dish she is cooking turns from a chunky concoction into a velvety stew. Within 30 minutes, it’s ready to be served. Wow, I think to myself. Indian food is pretty neat.
That’s the idea behind Saffron Fix, a new, New York City-based food delivery startup co-founded by Madhuri Sharma. The goal is to make Indian cuisine more approachable by sending customers the ingredients to make their own dishes from scratch. Madhuri and her co-founder, Ankita Sharma (no relation), came up with the concept in 2014 when they found many of their friends craving meals from the South Asian subcontinent but were unable to find the ingredients to cook it themselves.
“I didn’t even make [Indian food] for myself because I didn’t know where to find paneer,” Ankita, a native of northern India, recalls. “I didn’t know where to find garam masala.”
With Saffron Fix, the elusive search for exotic spices is taken out of the customer’s hands. Each temperature-controlled box comes with two or three recipes, and enough pre-chopped ingredients to serve two people per recipe. One box delivered every two weeks is $50; customers just looking to get a taste of the service can also opt to order one box of two or three recipes without any commitment starting at $50.
The startup officially launched late last year and now serves customers in over 20 states across the country. I caught up with Ankita and Madhuri during one of their prep weeks to learn more about the company and how the whole process works.