Meet Sonal, and her gourmet dips…
Chicaa Frescaa is a Coimbatore based venture that makes artisan dips and salsas. They offer gourmet delicious, all natural and healthy dips that are handcrafted with unique recipes and top quality ingredients sourced from across the world.
Sonal Oswal is the heart behind this venture. She is an Architect by profession and a foodie at heart. She is an avid traveller, and an amazing photographer who has travelled to around 20 countries. Travelling to so many different countries opened doors to her love for international cooking. She curates her own travel plans around History, Architecture and Food. Her Travel diaries started when she was studying architecture and travelled to various cities to take part in Student competitions. These travels took her to different parts of India where her love for food started. She still remembers the Pindi Chole of Amritsar, the Kerala meals, the Misthi Dohi of Kolkatta and the Misal Pav of Mumbai. She was mesmerized by the variety of food India had to offer in the early 2000s; then her journey towards international cuisine started when she moved to the US after marriage in 2006. This was the first time she had travelled outside of India and landed in the heart of a Mexican Settlement in the US; San Antonio was home to her for 6 years.
Albeit a Pure Vegetarian; She started her international food journey with Mexican Cuisine and that was her new found love; she explored the flavours from all parts of Mexico in the US. Being a vegetarian works in your favour sometimes because the chefs make something for you which is not in the menu and thus you get a creative dish custom made for you. She started understanding the intricacies of all the flavours and started trying the dishes at home. One cuisine at a time, one dish at a time and she got hooked onto recreating International dishes at home. She is now well versed in cooking with international cuisines such as Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese & Continental.
She also understood early on that the base of all cooking is the spices and the dips which elevate the food on the plate. This lead to her interests in Dips & Salsas. She researched various cookbooks; sourced various ingredients from its origin and started making these dips at home to be stored for multiple uses.
In 2012, Her love for India and her family brought her back to India. She really missed the food since Coimbatore didn’t have really good restaurants which offered international cuisines, hence she started cooking international dishes at home for her friends and family. Everytime someone came from abroad, she had them bring authetic ingredients from there which she used in her food. During potlucks and get-together with friends, she would be the first one to offer to bring some interesting food. She surprised her friends everytime and they took all the leftovers home for their families. This continued for some years during which her family grew and the kids started school and slowly she started getting back to architecture and food. With two growing children, she started cooking healthy meals with healthy ingredients and a variety of cuisines. She made healthy appetizers and dips while entertaining her guests and they appreciated the food. They kept pestering her to start selling her dips.
In July 2019, One of her best friends convinced her to start a company and sell her dips and thus CHICAA FRESCAA was born. She prepared a whole menu made up of various dips and hosted tasting parties at her place where she invited her friends to taste and critique her dips.
She launched her products at the Gourmet Bazaar 2019 in Coimbatore. It was a 2-day event for home bakers and gourmet food sellers of the city. She has made a menu of 15 different varieties of dips, including 3 Varieties of Pesto, 9 Varieties of Hummus and 3 Varieties of Salsas.
Pestos(Italian Cuisine) are a blended mixture of either Sun-dried Tomato, Italian Basil or Cilantro Leaves with Nuts, Cheese and Olive Oil. She sourced the ingredients very intricately to make sure that the quality and the consistency of the product is maintained; for example, she uses extra virgin olive oil imported from Spain, Parmesan cheese from Kodaikanal, pecans from USA and organic Italian basil from a local exporter in Coimbatore.
Hummus (Medditerranean Cuisine) is a paste made of Chickpeas, Sesame Seeds and Olive Oil. Other than having the traditional Hummus on her menu, She added flavours such as Tandoori, Schezwan, Chipotle etc. to the Hummus so that it is more appealing to the indian tastebuds; she even has a Chocolate Hummus for the Sweet tooth.
Salsas (Mexican Cuisine) is a hand-blended mixture of onions, tomatoes, chillies, garlic and Lime. She also created a different version of the Salsa by using Raw tomatoes called the Salsa Verde which is hugely popular in Mexico and Spain. She has an Avocado Salsa on the menu which turned out to be the crowd favourite because although most people loved Avocado, they were unaware of how adding some extra ingredients brought out the flavours of the fruit in a way that was unfathomable.
All in all, the show was a great hit for her; she sold out all her dips within a day and half .The organizers were pleasantly surprised that a new product got sold out before the event ended. Some of the reviews she received were
“We had travelled to the US and had this at a Persian Restaurant, tasting this in India and that too in Coimbatore is very surprising for us; the taste is exactly the same; I am going to call my son who lives in the US and tell him”
“Pestos, Hummus and Salsas are not common words in India; but you gave them an Indian touch with Tandoori Hummus, Cilantro Pesto etc; that’s amazing!”
“I have never tasted anything like this before, but it creates a wonderful taste in my mouth; would definitely come back for more”
These reviews and the fact that the she gave something to the people which is not available in the city gave her a lot of j oy. People who bought her dips on Day 1 of the event, came back on Day 2 to get more dips. Many people tasted all varieties and picked up a jar or two. She made a lot of new friends from the gourmet food industry as well as a lot of clients to grow her business. Orders kept coming in via WhatsApp and she kept selling these dips like hot cakes. She put stalls at more events in the city and continued grabbing attention and tingling tastebuds.
Recently, she has started curating recipes using the Dips & Salsas and posting them on Social Media so that it can be used by people who are interested in buying but don’t know how to use them. She even gets a lot of requests to ship products to Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai.
Since the dips are all natural and have no preservatives and they have a refrigerated shelf life of 7 to 10 days, she has not yet scaled up her business and placed the product in stores. She is currently in discussion with various Gourmet stores in the city to sell her dips & salsas. Although at this point, she has no plans to open a restaurant of her own; she plans to help and curate recipes for any upcoming International restaurants who might be interested.
For orders, you can contact Sonal on her FB page https://www.facebook.com/chicaafrescaa