The Spice Evangelist
May Fridel may have grown up in a home where fresh food was prepared at every meal, but after a move to America 25 years ago and a demanding Wall Street career, she found herself in the same trap as many other busy professionals.
“I was buying processed foods for convenience,” she explains. After the birth of her son, Fridel began to notice he was afflicted with a variety of ailments. “From asthma to allergies, he had it all”
His health issues prompted a dramatic course change for Fridel, who quit her job and returned to her roots.
“I began cooking the way my family taught me—from scratch” While she was able to And fresh produce and herbs, she was never satisfied with the spices. “I came from a family of spice merchants in Kerala, India, the center of the spice trade” she says, explaining her discerning tastes. She decided if she couldn't And good spices here she would import them herself, and Summit- based Passion for Spices was born. The web-based business sells two spice blends—Keralan Curry and Kashmiri Garam Masala. She sources the organic spices from her family contacts in India and packages them in the United States. “I want to make people comfortable using spices.”
Last year Fridel debuted a cookbook in partnership with the American Diabetes Association. Indian Cuisine Diabetes Cookbook: Savory Spices and Bold Flavors from South Asia is available in bookstores and through Amazon. Published in the United States, Canada and India, the cookbook is Fridel’s gospel, albeit one with tempting recipes and drool-worthy photos.
Fridel partnered with the American Diabetes Association to help spread the message that healthy eating can also be delicious. Each recipe meets association guidelines.
“Spices are not only tasty and flavorful, but they enhance your health by reducing inflammation in your body”
Fridel comes from a mindset where medicines hail from the backyard garden, not the pharmacy counter “If we had a cold, we sliced and boiled ginger and served it with honey. We didn’t take any medicine.”
The cookbook strives to spread her message of healthy eating with its collection of nutritious recipes that range from soups and salads to main dishes. “The recipes don’t use a lot of salt, sugar or fat, but are packed with flavorthanks to spices” she says.
Fridel’s food is far from “curry in a hurry” and she is quick to point out the common misconceptions about Indian cuisine. “Many people think only of curry when they think of Indian food. Curry doesn’t mean anything to us—it’s like saying gravy. Indian food is very complex with so many different cultures—French, Dutch, etc.They all influenced our cuisine. Each region of India has very different food. Many people also think it’s all too spicy, but my spices are not hot and are very versatile in both savory and sweet dishes”
Fridel is every bit the spice evangelist. In addition to the cookbook and her spice line (which she plans to expand within the next year), she offers cooking-with-spices workshops designed for children and adults to jazz up their healthy cooking routines and is designing a full line of spice trail-inspired journeys.
“I am escorting a group of people interested in food and heritage travel on our flrst trip to Kerala in January”
Indian Cuisine Diabetes Cookbook
(American Diabetes Association, May 2017)