John David (JD) Walsh and Shireen Qadri are the married co-founders, co-CEOs and life partners who concocted and made the company Moji Masala, which in cashmere means “Mom’s Spice Blend”. Authentic South Asian spice blend recipes come directly from Qadri’s mother. Each single-serving spice packet is labeled with simple cooking instructions, plus a QR code that takes you straight to a website with a video showing you how to create a specific Indian dish that can feed about three to five people.
“Our mission is to bring you spice blends that allow you to recreate the recipes of South Asian moms from across the subcontinent,” says Walsh. “Our one-pack product is designed to create a dish with no leftovers or waste. Our goal is to enable people to cook great Indian meals on a regular basis, so they can incorporate them into their weekly or monthly menu.
All Moji Masala spice blends are freshly ground, produced in small batches and packaged by hand. Most recipes are ready in 30 minutes, which is less time than it takes to order and receive restaurant delivery – and much cheaper. There are currently 12 varieties of Moji Masala spice blends available for meat lovers, vegetarians and vegans.
Walsh and Qadri came up with the idea for Moji Masala when they realized that simply collecting the 7-15 spices needed for most South Asian dishes was an insurmountable obstacle for many people. Plus, it can be frustrating to sift through thousands of recipes online to find the ones that are authentic and delicious. Finally, meal preparation can be too cumbersome and time-consuming.
Qadri sourced all the recipes for the spice blends and end dishes from his own mother and aunts. She then spent two years perfecting the recipes and simplifying the cooking process without compromising on flavor. During this time, she and Walsh also compiled a short list of spice suppliers that met their standards for very high quality fresh spices. All suppliers also had to demonstrate their commitment to working with environmentally and socially conscious farmers, paying fair wages. With one exception, the spices are certified organic, grown with minimal use of pesticides, non-irradiated, and non-fumigated.
“It’s extremely rare to find Indian spice blends that are clean, fresh and wholesome,” says Qadri. “None of these steps were easy! She calls Moji Masala “a beautiful product born out of our cross-cultural existence and passion for Indian cuisine, and the joy and community that comes with feeding people this delicious cuisine.”
Prior to founding Moji Masala, Walsh spent five years working across India to bring basketball to the country. Much of his work was in coordination with the US State Department as part of the sports diplomacy program. Qadri worked in finance for 20 years as an equity analyst and investor. But this enterprise, they believe, is the purpose of their lives.
“When you pursue your life’s work, you rejoice in great heights, can handle challenges with optimism, and can focus on the series of daily tasks that need to be done well. None of this feels overwhelming because we’re in this together,” Walsh says. Even work-life balance doesn’t seem to be an issue for him and Qadri. “The boundaries between personal life and professional life are blurring. It suits us very well, and we are not trying to separate.
To young people looking to pursue their passion, Qadri says, “Don’t quit your day job too soon. Use every ounce of free time to test your passionate ideas. Sleep less, skip vacations, fund your dreams and see where it takes you. Walsh has a different approach. It says to take a vacation – just take your laptop with you. “You will grow through travel and find answers there!”
More importantly, they say, “Be completely okay with what’s important to you. Then see if there is a business that can be made from it. Technically, we would add that you should learn accounting and understand the numbers behind the business you run. Keep learning!”