Payal Sathe has proven herself to be adept at not only starting a small business, but keeping it afloat and successful during the trials of the current pandemic.
Her business, Masala Spatula, focuses on showcasing Indian cuisine through the sale of Indian spice blends that each come complete with tasty yet simple recipes. Gradually she has expanded by offering in-home cooking classes and custom-made gift baskets.
Sathe arrived in Boulder from India as a newlywed in 2008. She had already received a law degree in India, and went on to earn a master’s in law from the University of Denver in 2010. Along came three children, and Sathe enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom. In 2017, her family moved to the Briargate area in Colorado Springs due to her husband’s employment. Eventually Sathey ealized: “I need to do something!” to complement her role as wife and mother.
Sathe always made her husband’s lunches on workdays, and his coworkers provided enthusiastic, daily feedback as they sampled a delicious array of Indian dishes. A kernel was planted as Sathe knew she wanted to do something that involved sharing her native Indian cuisine. “I got passionate about food — cooking and baking.”
Friends were complimentary and encouraging, and the idea to start her business was born.
In America, Indian cuisine commonly has a reputation of being overly spicy and very complicated because typically a wide variety of spices and other ingredients are needed to create dishes. Sathe set out to dispel these myths by developing her own spice blends and recipes such as Chai, Tandoori, Seafood Curry, Chana (chickpeas) Masala and Garam Masala. She is currently working on a new spice blend to make Chicken Tikka Masala, a favorite Indian dish.
Her spice blends typically include between six and 15 ingredients, and Sathe makes them fresh to order; toasting, grinding, and combining the spices to create her tasty blends. At least 95% of the ingredients she uses come directly from India, and are carefully purchased by her mother, who resides there.
Sathe emphasizes the freshness of her spice blends and the ease in cooking her dishes. Each blend comes with easy-to-follow recipes, and typically only between five and eight commonly-found ingredients are needed to create her healthy dishes.
In March 2019, Sathe launched Masala Spatula via Facebook. Masala is a blend of spices in Indian Food, and the spatula is Sathe’s favorite American kitchen utensil.
Sathe sells her spices under compliance with the Colorado Cottage Foods Act. She also has a food handler’s license. After holding two product demos in her home, Sathe’s business took off via word-of-mouth. Orders rolled in for Christmas gifts in 2019 and Sathe started offering classes to friends in their homes.
When COVID-19 hit in March, Sathe’s business virtually dried up, but she continued posting on Facebook. Eventually orders started coming back in, and people again scheduled her cooking classes that follow strict safety protocols.
In July she was a guest vendor at the Backyard Market in Black Forest. Her products quickly sold out. “I felt like I was getting public approval!” She plans to return to that market on Sept. 19.
Sathe encourages anyone interested in creating Indian cuisine to check out her Facebook page, facebook.com/masalaspatula. Her popular cooking classes are reasonably priced, interactive, and make a unique gift for a special occasion — or simply as an excuse to get together with friends. Gift baskets are made to order, and all spice blends come complete with recipes.
Sathe’s business goal has always been for friends and family to have an opportunity to come together, making and enjoying delicious food by using simple recipes. Her hope is to foster different cultures while making lasting memories.
Customers are enthusiastic in their praise of Sathe’s vision: “LOVE these delicious spices for extremely easy and quick Indian food. Payal creates authentic blends and will teach you how to use them.”
Based on her own experience, Sathe advises anyone starting a new business: “Believe in yourself … have a good support system … and it takes time to get a business going.”