Saturday, August 21, 2010

Enlightened: Selling Salsa in Kathmandu

I had been trying to get in the habit of posting on this blog just about every day, and every other at a bare minimum. As you can see though this is day three since the last post. My excuse is that I had to get the packaging and product ready for my latest venture, which is selling salsa at the farmers markets in Kathmandu. Getting salsa made right here isn't as easy as you would think, as many of the spices are just a bit different and finding some ingredients can be a chore. That said, the base ingredients are very abundant, and Nepal offers some great additional fruits that are cheap and fresh. Just the other day I saw avocados being sold too, which means even more options very soon!

Vegetables Dry from an Iodine Bath

On Thursday I bought what I thought was enough ingredients and had it all soaked in an iodine solution for an hour. Now normally I don't bother doing this when cooking for myself, but many people (especially expats) consider this essential. Now since I'm selling it to other people and not just making it for myself, it's also important that I do everything I can to make sure that the food is hygienic. Once everything dried I divided up all the different ingredients and went out to pick up my labels.

Abhishek Shrestha did an excellent job printing up labels for me, I unfortunately didn't measure the jars correctly as I didn't realize they had such a curve to them on the top and bottom, this caused the labels to crease a bit at those ends, but it still looked good. By Thursday night I had all my labels I would use for my first test run attached to the jars.

Now chopping that huge pile of vegetables and fruit pictured above into five different one gallon batches is no simple feat. Friday morning I started at about 8:30AM. I took a quick break to run to Bhat Betini to get a larger bowl to put the batches in once I realized the existing one wouldn't work. I also stopped briefly to check my e-mail around 4PM. Other than that I was chopping, slicing, dicing and mixing. Some time after 6PM Kim and I stepped out to eat some dinner, as I had essentially skipped lunch. We also had to stop to get some more tomatoes, onions and garlic on the way home. After getting back I went back to chopping and finally got to bed some time just before midnight.

Selling Enlightened Salsa at the Farmer's Market

So I arrived just before 9AM and spoke with Francois, who is one of the two people in charge of the market.  He sets me up with a table and I put the samples out and the jars. Almost immediately people started showing up and I sold some of the Original Mexican style, which seemed the most popular with Nepali's who tried the different flavors. Some time after ten thirty I sold out of the Pomegranate, then the Original, and then the Greek by 11AM. By the time I was done all I had left was a couple bottles of hot pepper and one Thai.

Salsa Ready for Sampling

What I learned in my first attempt is that there is definitely a market for salsa in Kathmandu. Having the Greek stuff was a great way to have something to sell to people (especially Europeans) who don't like spicy foods. I could have easily sold half again the number of Greek and maybe Pomegranate and Original as well. I'll also have to look into selling at the Summit Hotel in Patan on Sundays. 

In order to make enough to sell at both locations and also in order to save my hand from future blisters and my body from 15 hour days of salsa making I'll have to take my earnings from today and invest in a food processor. I'll also have to start looking into making tortillas and tortilla chips to sell alongside, because the chips in this city are very expensive, mostly because I think only expats eat them. So thanks to Shobha at 1905 for not only putting together the market, but also for letting me sell there. Had a great first run and look forward to continuing to provide salsa to Kathmandu.

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