TDS 14 Taufeek Shah: The Hot Rise of a Family Venture, Lola's Hot Sauce
In this week’s episode, prepare to salivate. Every episode of The Delicious Story highlights food, but in this one you’ll be blown over by the rich description of flavors and superb recipe ideas shared by our guest Taufeek Shah of Lola’s Fine Hot Sauces.
This conversation will spice up your life. How is that for a promise?
My husband David and I first discovered Lola’s Fine Hot Sauces a few months ago. David had just been diagnosed with a heart condition and we were told to get on a low-salt heart healthy diet. We started to scour the shelves at the supermarket for low-sodium items and learned fast that EVERYTHING is made with loads of salt.
Thankfully, low-sodium has become recognized as a market need, so food manufacturers are stepping up to provide options. That said, what do you do in the kitchen when salt is reduced or gone? You look for flavor, and for us that came in the form of heat. We love spicy food and especially good-tasting hot sauces, but these can be tricky for sodium. Then we discovered Lola’s. Now, more than two dozen bottles later, we’ve enjoyed all four flavors and are huge fans. We splash Lola’s on practically everything.
I was pleased, and frankly star struck, when I reached out to Lola’s and found out they are not only an Iowa-based company but also extremely generous and excited to share their story. It is a family venture that begins with the matriarch who goes by the adored title of Lola (grandmother). I’ll let you listen as Taufeek shares their exciting adventure of how it all began only two years ago, along with their fast rise to international brand which now includes a family restaurant in Ankeny, Iowa.
Taufeek heads up sales and expansion of Lola’s Fine Sauces while his sister Hannah Shah Elliot is Chef and managing partner of Lola’s Fine Kitchen. Taufeek explains that the entire enterprise is a homage to their mother, who created the sauces and many of the dishes served in the restaurant.
I think this merging of the two nations on the plate is marvelous. The country of Pakistan is surrounded by neighbors India, Afghanistan and China. The dishes are influenced by the Middle Eastern region and include Daal chawal (lentil and rice) and aloo gosht (meat and curry potato) often accompanied by bread staples of naan and roti.
Thousands of miles west the Philippines are islands found in the South Chinese Sea. Most dishes there include dried and braised meats of pork, beef, and chicken flavored with garlic, vinegar, oil and soy sauce.
Listen in to the story Taufeek shares of how his family came to mesh together the rich food traditions of these two countries and shares details of his family’s history.
PEPPERS ARE KEY TO THE SAUCES
Taufeek knows the language of peppers and can talk poetically of the nuances of Lola’s Fine Hot Sauces. One thing he mentioned several times is the Scoville Unit. I’d not heard of it before, but it is regularly used by hot sauce experts, and as per Wikipedia is “a measurement of the pungency of chili peppers and other spicy foods.”
To get a bit more technical, this heat all has to do with the active ingredient of capsaicin which is actually an irritant for mammals. Thus, when we eat peppers—or touch them or get juice in our eyes—we feel the reaction as burning. For those of us who like things spicy, it’s like we are in a battle with capsaicin—and we will win!
You will get a better understanding of peppers and how they are selected and prepared for Lola’s sauces in this fast-paced interview with Taufeek. It’s the language of pepper aficionados which I don’t fully understand, but it sounds so very tasty. I can concur from regular sampling that the sauces are hot but also quite tangy!
Here is a detailed review of Lola’s Hot Sauce rating by Fuego Box: