The Indian spice story has been written over centuries.
The amazing scent, great taste, unusual color, and finger-licking flavor of Indian food are known all over the world. The key to Indian food’s delectable flavors is the abundance of spices that have been utilized for thousands of years and are now found worldwide.
Spices were not only utilized in cooking in India but they were also used to treat illnesses. They appeal to our senses by filling our nostrils with a delightful scent, our tongue with a distinct flavor, our eyes with bright hues, and our hearts with love—well apart from chili powder!
The Indian spice story goes a long way back, but curry mix brand Sundooq’s retelling of it is novel. As its name implies, it’s a keepsake of India’s precious food and spice culture. Let’s find out more.
A Storyteller’s Dream
Sundooq is founded by Virkein Dhar, an architect and dancer by training, a systems designer by profession, and a food enthusiast by heart. She calls herself a story seeker with a travel addiction.
For more than a decade, she has worked in diverse fields including art and culture, architecture, and design. Inherently curious, she works towards building a future world embedded with values of care and unity.
She works part-time as a creative producer at Poppy Seed Lab, a creative agency that uses immersive performance, strategic design, innovation research, and partnership development to construct and cross-pollinate cultural narratives in order to seed compassionate and sustainable futures in Asia.
Sundooq arose from her passion for storytelling and the experience of traveling around India’s diverse environment. The minds behind Sundooq think that food can be a powerful vehicle for sharing tales that aren’t commonly told, stories that remind everyone of familiar settings, moments of unconditional generosity, and enduring connections.
Building The Treasure Box
Dhar doesn’t consider herself a chef but rather an inquisitive creator. Sundooq arose from the pandemic, with a desire to turn the art of storytelling in several ways. For the past ten years, Dhar has been creating performances, locations, and personal experiences.
In 2019, she began to investigate food as a medium for sharing tales that aren’t typically shared and created Table Radica, an immersive performance of memoirs, found items, music, and food.
While the initiative was growing, the pandemic had different ideas, turning the joy of sharing an intimate meal with strangers into a dangerous situation.
When the lockdown began and theaters closed, she began to consider how they might duplicate the experience of Table Radica. It was, after all, a performance she had co-produced with a theatre director, researcher, and chef, into a mobile version that could be taken to people.
Memoirs, food, found items, and music were used to create an intimate experience. This was difficult to recreate in isolation and ‘distancing’.
Finally, she came up with the concept of a performance in a box, which she named Laal Sundooq, a red suitcase that could bring the entire experience to the audience’s tables without people having to be there.
As she considered the mechanics of how this would work, she also had to consider the food that would be served throughout the play. And at one point, she wondered whether that experience could be replicated if individuals cooked for themselves, and if so, how could we make it possible? That’s when the concept evolved into what Sundooq is today.
“The performance in a box format of Laal Sundooq is still alive at the back of my mind, and you’ll see more on that soon,” she promises.
What Sundooq Brings To The Table
Sundooq creates flavor bombs that are tiny enough to fit into your bags, allowing you to perfectly replicate regional Indian family favorites in your own kitchen. Its easy-to-prepare curry mixes and multi-purpose chutney mixes will stimulate you to cook and make every day more flavorful, and memorable.
Sundooq’s products are fresh, made in small batches, hand-packaged, and processed in pre-portioned tear and pour packets with no preservatives.
All you need is fresh meat and/or veggies, some pantry staples (such as oil and water), and a lot of love. Sundooq utilizes only the most flavorful, traceable, sustainably sourced, and ethically supplied ingredients. As a cherry on the cake, the mixes are vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan-friendly, with creative recipe cards included.
The mixes you’ll find at Sundooq aren’t the same ones you’d find on a store shelf or at a restaurant. The distinctive recipes that make up the foundation of each blend come from moms, grandmothers, and home cooks, and have been passed down through the years.
These are then redesigned and presented to you in a very basic manner while maintaining the classic flavor.
Spice mixes, like the ready-to-cook category, are not new. Sundooq falls somewhere in the middle. It’s different from the others in offering variety, quality, freshness, and a foolproof packing structure. Sundooq works towards a future of sustainable food culture and mindful eating, through its production practices.
Some of Sundooq’s current offerings are Meghalaya’s Dohneiiong (black sesame seeds curry) mix, Mangalore’s Gassi (spicy coconut curry) mix, Kashmir’s Yakhni (spiced yogurt curry) mix, and Roganjosh (Kashmiri chili curry) mix. Sundooq also features chutney mixes from Bombay (Lasanyu), Tamil Nadu (Milagu), and Bihar (Teesi).
Growth So Far
Sundooq opened up for the public in February 2021, so it’s only been a year of storytelling.
The brand is growing organically and has an intimate relationship with all its clients. In the following months, it will be adding additional goods to its inventory and aiming to expand through partnerships to reach at least 1000 homes in the next several months.
Sundooq is also creating a communal collection of tales, recipes, and memories that will become part of the Sundooq digital experience. Customers’ recipes, particularly their trials with Sundooq mixtures, now have their own section on the brand site.
A subscriber-only section on the website known as Khhat, a letter containing anecdotes about people and places that have captivated and inspired the Sundooq team, is also available.
Along with it, products will have fragments of poetry and art that you’ll be delighted to find in your boxes at home!