Meet the Makers

Diaspora Co. Is Here to Decolonize Your Turmeric Latte

Photo: Amira Maxwell

About four years after Sana Javeri Kadri moved to the United States to attend Pomona College, she noticed something odd. Turmeric—that golden-yellow spice native to Javeri Kadri’s home country, India—was suddenly everywhere, from lattes to crackers to chocolate. And she had a sneaking suspicion that the people actually growing it weren’t the ones profiting from turmeric’s popularity.

She was right. The modern spice trade is still heavily shaped by its colonialist origins. Farmers in the global South still earn pennies per pound to grow commodity spices, which US–based spice wholesalers sell at astronomical markups. If turmeric was going to be a trend, she reasoned, she wanted Indian farmers to make as much money off of that trend as possible.

That’s how, in August 2017, then 23-year-old Javeri Kadri founded Diaspora Co. Her Oakland-based company seeks to decolonize the spice industry through direct trade and transparency, one turmeric latte at a time. Staring down the history-shaping beast that is the spice industry is no easy feat, and Javeri Kadri’s life has been a crash course in business ownership ever since.

Thankfully, there was some precedent for what she was trying to do. Like spices, coffee and chocolate are both predominantly grown in the global South. Until recently, they were also untraceable, unremarkable commodity crops. Origin-specific sourcing and direct trade have changed people’s perceptions of what coffee and cocoa can taste like. They’ve also helped farmers to receive a modicum of recognition and compensation for growing the world’s favorite foods, though Javeri Kadri notes that there’s still a long way to go.

Javeri Kadri’s deep dive into Indian turmeric production brought her to the Indian Institute of Spice Research in Kerala. It was there that she learned about Pragati turmeric, an heirloom cultivar with a high curcumin content and a short growing season. It’s the best turmeric in the world, but in an industry dominated by cheap commodity production, nobody wanted to buy it. Except for her.

For the past two growing seasons Diaspora has had a direct purchasing relationship with Prabhu Kumar Kasaraneni, a farmer growing Pragati turmeric in northern Andhra Pradesh. Diaspora pays Mr. Prabhu $3.50 per kilogram of his turmeric, about 10 times the average market price. Diaspora’s turmeric costs more than commodity, but they’ve found an audience selling directly to consumers and to mission-driven businesses who believe in what they do.

Not only is she open and transparent about her purchasing relationships, Javeri Kadri has intentionally centered her personal story as part of Diaspora’s identity. As a young, queer woman of color, she knows her visibility as a business owner matters.

“As a young person it’s hard to command authority, so I’ve had to learn how to be a boss” Javeri Kadri said on a phone call from India, where she’s been researching new products for Diaspora’s lineup (cardamom, cumin, coffee, and tea are all contenders). “Honestly, if I had known then everything I know now, I probably wouldn’t have done this. But I’m also very grateful that I did.”

Eat Good Food

Stocking the Spring Pantry

spring pantry

Stocking the spring pantry with essentials helps you make the most of the season’s unfolding bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

With your pantry well stocked, you’ll be prepared to cook a wide range of dishes, and you’ll save time and money by avoiding unnecessary trips to the store.

Enjoying spring’s beautiful produce means letting the flavors speak for themselves. The following are some of the ingredients that pair well with spring produce to build or enhance dishes.

Anchovies Cured fillets, packed either in olive oil or salt (our preference, as these have a longer shelf life), add an umami depth to salad dressings and pasta sauces. Just one or two mashed-up fillets can be the magic ingredient that enhances flavors.

Black Peppercorns and a good pepper mill.

Chicken or Vegetable Stock Homemade stock for making risottos, light soups and braises, and pasta en brodo.

are an essential ingredient for egg salads, sauce gribiche, and charcuterie; Dijon mustard is traditionally added to vinaigrettes to dress salad greens, poached leeks, or asparagus spears; Capers, packed in brine or salt, are an essential ingredient in salsa verdes, remoulade, and ravigote, and add tang and pungency to chicken, fish, and pasta.

Dried Pasta
A year-round pantry staple, pasta is a great vehicle for spring vegetables as in Pasta Primavera. If you have several types — some long like Linguine and Fettuccine, some shaped like Penne and Orecchiette — you’re halfway to dinner.

Dried Red Pepper Flakes A pinch of red pepper flakes added during the cooking process goes a long way to heighten flavor any season of the year.

Quinoa (grain salads); Millet (muffins and waffles for crunch protein); Farro (salads and risottos); Arborio rice (risottos); Brown rice (pilafs, rice bowls, salads); Buckwheat flour (sweet and savory crepes).

Lentils A quick-cooking legume that makes a nice warm side dish or a fresh, cool salad. The tiny green French variety LePuy and Black Belugas are favorites. Yellow lentils are common in Indian cooking.

Pine nuts, Pistachios, and Almonds, toasted quickly in a skillet, are versatile additions to be used in salads, rice dishes, and pestos.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sesame Oil, Coconut OilMake sure yours are fresh.

A few seasonings from our SHED Pantry line that add great flavor to some of our favorite springtime dishes include Moroccan spice blends such as Ras el Hanout to enhance lamb and chicken dishes; Tarragon Caper Powder for asparagus salads, poached fish, and devilled eggs; Shiitake Mushroom Powder to add umami to dashi broths for poaching fish, chicken, or vegetables.

Flaky Maldon Salt, and flavored salts such as Lemon Salt and Green Salt from SHED’s Pantry line.

Stock a few varieties such as Champagne vinegar; Banyuls, a mellow red wine with a complex nutty flavor; White Wine vinegar and Rice Wine vinegar.

Verjus The pressed juice of unripened grapes, verjus can be red (made from either purely red grapes or a red-white mix) or white (made from white grapes). While acidic, verjus has a gentler flavor than vinegar, with a sweet-tart taste that is often used in salad dressings as well as marinades. You can use white verjus as you would use white wine vinegar, lemon juice, or white wine—it is good in beurre blanc, or other sauces for chicken or fish.

Artisan Producers, Chefs, Craftsmanship, Farming, Foodshed, Healdsburg, HomeFarm

Introducing the SHED Pantry Line

We’re excited to announce the launch of the SHED pantry line, featuring a proprietary collection of powders, salt blends, herbs and spices, preserves, pickles, and Shrub concentrates drawn from the best ingredients prepared just as we do in our Healdsburg café.

Coming to fruition under the direction of SHED chef Perry Hoffman, plans for the Pantry Line predate SHED and its café. SHED co-owner Cindy Daniel knew that she wanted to do this before our doors even opened.

“It’s always been a dream of Cindy’s and really, it just makes so much sense,” Perry says. “It really came from the concept of utilizing the pantry that we use to cook from in the café.”

SHED Powders

A distillation of flavor, the SHED powders are a unique finishing touch that pack a punch. Available in one-ounce bottles, they are the essential taste of the vegetables from which they’re made.

Dehydrated in our own kitchens and then pulverized before being mixed with Jacobsen Salt, these powders are intended to be used just before serving to add a strong note to your good fresh food.

“I’ve been using powders for 16 years,” Perry says. “The tradition really comes from fine dining. They’re amazing flavor enhancers. When you dehydrate produce, you concentrated the flavor of that element.”

Perry likes the Charred Eggplant Powder sprinkled atop a bowl of yogurt with fresh chopped mint. He mixes it into vinaigrettes, and hails it as his “love letter” to the baba ganoush dip he adored as a child.

The Tarragon Caper Powder is a nod to traditional French cuisine, adding a note of elegance perfect for using to finish sauces. “Capers and tarragon are two ingredients that are made for each other,” Perry says.

The Niçoise Olive Powder is purposefully not powdered entirely. “We leave this a bit chunkier and just smash them into little crumbles because we love those little bits of dried olives,” Perry says.

The Shiitake Mushroom Powder is a “flavor builder,” Perry says, referring to its role adding umami to any dish. “Add it to a little bit of chicken stock and soy sauce and you’ve got this amazing stock that will add flavor to anything. It’s all about intensifying flavors.”

One in every 100 Padron peppers is hot, so eating them has an element of chance. Dehydrating and then powdering them for our Padron Pepper Powder guarantees that its sweetness will be tempered by a bit of heat. “When you combine them,” Perry says, “you get an incredibly wonderful, earthy powder.”

The Smoked Onion Powder features sweet onions and adds a gorgeous element of onion flavor to everything it touches. “Mix it into sour cream,” Perry suggests, “and you have a dip.”

SHED Salt Blends

SHED’s blends use Jacobsen Salt as a base and add unusual flavors to create finishing salts you’ll always want to reach for.

An incredibly versatile and popular offering, Lemon Salt can be sprinkled liberally atop roasted potatoes and fish. For dessert, try a pinch with vanilla ice cream.

Utilizing an increasingly popular Japanese culinary herb, our Red Shiso Salt is perfect for bringing a fresh taste to a salad before serving or for sprinkling upon fish.

“As a chef, you have the opportunity to cook this way because you have Shiso and you have salt,” Perry explains. “Home cooks don’t necessarily have that option. This is a way of being able to capture those flavors in a jar and be close to the same outcome.”

Made for chicken and perfect for lamb, pork loin, and other roasts, the Rosemary and Wild Fennel Salt is, Perry says simply, “a natural love affair.”

Normally not one to play favorites, Perry confesses that his favorite of the new line is the Black Lime Salt, which has a distinctly Californian take on a traditional Middle Eastern flavor profile. Limes are salted and soaked before being dried and pulverized, bringing an intensity to this salt.

“The wonderful aromatic flavors of lime are very dominant, so this becomes a umami flavor enhancer,” Perry says. He suggests pairing the Black Lime Salt with the Shitake Powder for a umami powerhouse. “If you were to add those two to your broth, it would be very full-bodied.”

SHED Shrubs

A drinking vinegar born from the need to use all of the harvest, the Shrub has recently come back into favor. And thank goodness for that.

Shrubs are the centerpiece of the Fermentation Bar in our Healdsburg store and our flavors always change to match the season. This new collection of essential Shrub flavors is just the start; we’ll be certain to add more as the harvest wanes and new herbs, fruits, and flowers become available.

Available in 12-ounce bottles, SHED Shrub concentrates form the base for a refreshing non-alcoholic drink but can just as easily be made with Prosecco or other lightly bubbly wines.

Whether Quince, Apple, Beet, or Grape — each SHED Shrub concentrate is made from organic ingredients raised by farmers we know or even foraged by Chef Perry himself.

What’s more, his technique for creating this concentrate hasn’t change. For a few hundred years. “We do this just as they would have in the 1800s,” Perry says.

Preserves and Honey

Having fresh jam made with local fruit is a hallmark of the SHED café and our pantry. A devoted home cook, Cindy has always spent part of her summer putting up preserves. Now you can share in some of our good fortune and bounty. Each jar is made of pure organic or even foraged fruit set with cane sugar and a good squeeze of lemon juice. That’s all.

SHED honey is raised in Sonoma County by beekeepers who respect their hives and the hard-working insects inside of them. SHED subscribes to the idea that we don’t keep bees — the bees keep us, as one-third of all the food that we eat is made possible by pollinators.

Pickled Vegetables

Fermentation is a core value at SHED. “We pickle everything. It was so hard to even choose what to put in the jar,” Perry says.

Perry loves eggplant but it doesn’t pickle well, so he made a gorgeous chunky Roasted Eggplant Conserva from it. He encourages us to use it as a chutney. “Yogurt is the most wonderful platform for it,” he enthuses. “It’s such a match made in heaven.”

Packed like the Conserva in 13.5-ounce jars, our Pickled Carrots are flavored with dill leaves, jalapeños, and black peppercorns; the Pickled Turnips with bay leaf, beets, and garlic. Both of them are perfect additions to supper, laid out on a relish plate to contribute bite and interest to a simple meal.

Also jarred up for a pre-dinner pickle plate are our Pickled Shiitake Mushrooms, Roasted Eggplant Conserva, and Turmeric Pickled Turnips.

Herbs & Spices

With this Pantry line-up, SHED is also proud to release its own line of herbs and spices, adding traditional everyday spices like cinnamon to a line-up of offerings that include the Middle Eastern flavors of Harissa, Zahtar, and Vadouvan. We have other unusual mixes like Shichimi Togarashi, Japanese Curry Powder, and Chinese Five Spice. Our own line of Dukka is already a best-selling staple. We even have six kinds of peppercorn!

Just the Start

SHED’s Pantry line is an effort to preserve the peak flavors of the season by pickling, preserving, fermenting, smoking, and drying ingredients to make jams, pickles, shrubs, spice blends, and powders.  It’s an attempt to better tell the story of good farming, good cooking, and good eating.

“We want to take all of the behind-the-scenes things that we make and showcase them,” Perry says.

“There are so many things that we have to make to stock our own pantry. The powders are a perfect example of that.  We want to show what we make, and how we use these products to flavor and enhance our cooking,” he says.

“And how you might share in that.”