If Grief is the Thing with Feathers, then heat is the thing with scales.
And truly packing the heat this season is Naagin, a new hot sauce that slithered into the Indian market just yesterday. Hot off the press are two varieties – the Naagin Bhoot Indian Hot Sauce made with bhut jolokia chilles from the North East; and an Original version that stars Sankeshwari chillies from Kolhapur.
Your Burning Desire
It’s no secret, your long-time desire for a good homegrown hot sauce, and three Bombay boys behind Naagin are here to satisfy it. Meet Mikhel Rajani, founder at Francesco’s (remember that viral drone pizza delivery?); Arjun Rastogi, the numbers guy who also co-founded digital agency Skarma; and content cat Kshitij Neelakantan, co-founder at Double Think Media. They’re clearly citizens of different crafts, but they do inhabit the same sub-condiment, where nerdiness for chillies is not only tolerated but wholly encouraged.
“I have about 300 bottles of chilli sauces in my kitchen from all over the world,” Mikhel tells us on the phone, recommending Truffs his current favourite hot sauce spiked with truffle oil. As for the brand name, Mikhel thought it up two years ago; and he knows that you know that in India Naagin is so much more than just the Hindi word for female snake. “It’s a motion picture icon, a meme, a mood.” Suffice to say that the snake emoji pops up often on this trio’s group chat; in fact, it’s how Arjun indicated to Mikhel that “he’s in” after their first meeting.
Fix Your Vipers
Hundreds of hot sauce recipes were tried and tested, we’re told, after which team Naagin zeroed in on its current formula. “We wanted to use real ingredients rather than be one of those 80% corn starch sauces,” says Mikhel.
Both versions are rich, thick, full bodied and vegan. We enjoyed the Original version, much more, where flavour backs heat; taste real tomatoes with rip tides of garlic and Sankeshwari chillies. But we also liked mixing the Original sauce with the smoky Bhoot one, which on its own is a bit too intense for this writer. The same intensity however, is pleasing to bpb restaurant reviewer and serious “chilli head” Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi, who welcomes this good first attempt at “Indian Sriracha-ish sauce”. While she also recommends mixing these with cooking oils or salad dressings, the Naagin team pairs it with everything from dal-chaawal to grilled cheese.
Both versions of Naagin’s hot sauces are available to order on Scootsy and Amazon, where they’re packed and waiting to meet you. (Snake) Charmed, I’m sure.
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