Simi Kular on bringing her mom’s home-cooked Indian dishes into homes across Ontario
Kular left pharmaceutical sales to go into business with her mom
Today Simi Kular is an accomplished entrepreneur and CEO of Jaswant’s Kitchen, a line of specially blended Indian spices and easy-to-make healthy recipes that she has been working hard to expand by brokering deals with Whole Foods and HelloFresh. Back in the ’90s, however, she was 11 years old, and a recent East Coast expat in the GTA.
The switch from small maritime town to big city was jarring but exciting for the laid-back tween. And when it was time for high school, the Toronto French School, with the school’s small class sizes and focus on quality bilingual education seemed worth the daily commute to Bayview and Lawrence.
Kular always did well in school. She was outgoing and never wanted for friends. Shying away from sports, she gravitated more toward Ontario Students Against Drunk Driving and the Model UN Club.
“Come to think of it, maybe I was a bit of a nerd,” she jokes.
The University of Western Ontario became her post-secondary destination, and biology was her chosen major. The thought of following in her father’s footsteps to become a doctor crossed her mind, but in the end, she decided that spending eight years in university and another three to seven in residency was just too much to sign up for.
Instead, after graduating from Western, she went into pharmaceutical sales for Pfizer, a job that combined her love of science with her personable nature. She would spend the next 10 years selling for Big Pharma. In that time she also got married and started a family.
With two young boys at home, nutrition became a key concern for Kular.
“I would call home and ask Mom how to make recipes from childhood,” she says. Jaswant Kular, Simi Kular’s mom, never cooked with a recipe, but she quickly realized that she would have to standardize tradition if she wanted to pass it along to her children.
Jaswant’s Kitchen grew from that moment. Jaswant started experimenting and created a “magic spice blend” comprised of over 20 herbs and spices that mimics the spices she would grind for her grandmother in a small town outside of Doraha, India. That same spice blend is now sold as Tadka Masala.
In 2010, Jaswant and her daughters set up a booth at the Good Food Festival in Brampton. Their chicken curry dish garnered a line all the way to the back of the space and an award for People’s Pick at the festival. It was at that point that the Kulars began to believe that they might have something worth professionally marketing.
Jaswant’s Kitchen now produces high-quality, small batch spice blends that are all natural, with no dyes or preservatives, sold in several independent grocers in Ontario. They can also be found online, along with quick, easy and healthy authentic Indian recipes to use with their blends on the company’s website, jaswantskitchen.com.
“We wanted to inspire people to cook Indian food because it can be intimidating. We’ve simplified the process to inspire people to do this at home,” says Simi.
Their work with Whole Foods and HelloFresh also shows how large companies are supporting local businesses.
“HelloFresh aligns so beautifully with our mandate. They create recipes with our spice blends and give you everything you need to make a full meal without even going to the grocery store,” she says.