Images and words by Fabian Loo
The next generation is breathing new life into the forgotten art of spice-mixing, peppering the traditional trade with renewed ideas and fresh perspectives.
Memories of Mohammad Shah’s childhood come perfumed with spices. Growing up, he found himself playing in rooms filled with sacks of dried goods. “It was a fragrance that I got to know really well,” he says. It was what got the young boy interested in his family’s spice business. Today, Shah is the third-generation owner of Rasool Shop, a sundry store that deals with an extensive amount of spices and varying mixes.
But the alluring scent that he grew up with cannot be easily found anymore, especially in today’s age of convenience food. Modern supermarkets and readily available, preblended pastes mean that traditional spice businesses, like Rasool Shop, are fast losing relevance.
Thankfully, a group of next-generation spice makers is determined to safeguard this disappearing trade. And for Shah, that means carrying the torch of his family’s legacy. Come next year, Rasool Shop will celebrate its 60th anniversary. “In a way, the business is like a parent to me.” says the third-generation owner. “I see it as filial piety.”
The history of Rasool Shop dates back to the 1960s when it sold only a few varieties. It has since grown into a spice filled paradise, with shelves lined with over 100 different varieties, all of which are harvested and shipped from family-owned farms in Tamil Nadu, India.
*Read the full article in Wine & Dine’s 2021 ‘Spice & Aromatics’ issue. Available at newsstands and Magzter