Last summer I got my mitts on some ramen noodles freshly cut from a half-ton sentient machine and couldn’t think of a better prep than a raw egg and a drizzle of Bombay Chili Crunch. During the pandemic I discovered my superpower was nut and fruit snack mixes, toasted with Amma’s Chai Masala or Maharashtrian Goda Masala. These feats of culinary strength couldn’t have been achieved without the arsenal of spicing ordnance created by Jasmine Sheth of Tasting India.
Since sidelining her marvelous regional Indian meal delivery service, Sheth has been a dedicated spice merchant on the farmers’ market scene, pushing this extraordinary collection of blends on the argument that they’re suited for a range of culinary applications far more global than even India’s vast diversity can encompass.
Less frequently she’s demonstrated their powers at the occasional pop-up. Her garam masala-spiced cornbread with chili-crunch butter was a runaway sleeper at the Umami Friendsgiving, in an arena Sheth will be headlining this Monday.
That’s right, this June 5 Sheth returns to Monday Night Foodball, the Reader’s weekly chef pop-up at Ludlow Liquors, with an all-star cast of chefs, slinging spices with dishes never before seen on a Devon Avenue buffet spread.
“The whole idea with these spice blends is a way to equip people with the tools to be adventurous in the kitchen and to discover all of the flavors from around the country,” says Sheth. “But also to translate them into their everyday cooking.”
Sheth’s equipped returning Foodball veterans Taylor Hanna and Sebastian Vargo of Vargo Brother Ferments with her Goda Masala, with a hint of camphor to accent their smoked mackerel with coconut rice and tangy-sweet yellow pepper-mango Gold Sauce.
Also returning is Sheal Patel of Dhuaan BBQ, with a pulled chicken sandwich radiating with Sheth’s East Indian Bottle Masala. Jaye Fong of Maa Maa Dei marks her record-breaking fifth Foodball with Amma’s Chai Masala-spiced crumbly shortbread cookies dipped in chai-masala semisweet chocolate, decorated with candied ginger and orange.
There’s a rookie in the ranks as Chicagoan J.D. Voss, formerly of San Francisco’s Jamber Wine Pub, debuts parmesan and rosemary mashed potato tots with Bombay bacon jam.
As for Sheth, she’s still working on her dish, but she’ll also have all six Tasting India spice blends for sale along with the Bombay Chili Crunch.
They’re taking walk-in orders only starting at 5:30 PM this Monday at Ludlow Liquors, 2959 N. California.
You can also catch Tasting India at the Logan Square Farmers Market every other Sunday from June 11, and the Andersonville Farmers Market every other Wednesday from June 7.
Meantime, there’s three more Foodballs to go before we announce a brand-new summer schedule.