bonnie_webBonnie: I smiled when I read the press materials delivered with Maya Kaimal Spicy Ketchup: “Spice up your summer with spicy ketchup.” I smiled ’cause that was my exact thought when I first tasted this sweet (from brown sugar), spicy (from hot chilies), sort of Indian-flavored (redolent of toasted cumin) ketchup at a recent food show.

Maya Kaimal also makes a variety of tasty Indian sauces, both refrigerated and shelf-stable ones that include  Butter Masala, Vindaloo, Madras Curry and Coconut Curry. But with Spicy Ketchup, Maya Kaimal takes America’s quintessential condiment to a new level. Unusual, mildly spicy and delicious. Made from onions, tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, oil, salt, Serrano chilies, paprika and spices.  Use it as you’d use regular ketchup: on burgers, sausages or hot dogs; as a dip for grilled seafood, skewered chicken or fried potatoes or just brush in on as you would any barbecue sauce.

Bryan 3aphoto - Version 2 Bryan: Ketchup’s not an Indian food… is it? I asked myself this same question when I was told we possibly would be reviewing Maya Kaimal Spicy Ketchup. Maya Kaimal is an Indian specialty foods company. Huh?

To me, ketchup is the ultimate American condiment, the sauce that, right or wrong, seems to get added to almost everything Americana. While some foods are natural foils for that ubiquitous condiment (hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries), I can still recall reacting with genuine disgust as patrons of various restaurants I’ve worked in over the years have inquired about a bottle of ketchup, only to dunk their nonketchup- requiring foods into the sweet, red goo.

For me, a good steak is the most egregious of the foods I’ve watched people dunk into ketchup (though I did once observe a man eat a beautiful scallop risotto, dipping his forkfuls into a glob of ketchup with each bite). Hey, to each his own, right? Though I might be a most vocal proponent of what you SHOULD do with your food, I will always be the last person to tell anyone what he MUST do. Want to dunk your seafood in ketchup? Well then, have at it… heathen.

Heathens rejoice. A new category changer has brought your behavior into the norm. Ketchup is not really ketchup if it’s not really ketchup… right? Have questions? Well, today we have Maya Kaimal’s ketchup, and to me, it’s not really ketchup but something quite different, quite special, but still quite ketchup. Something you can even dunk your steak into!

I was blissfully unaware that ketchup was actually originally a fermented Asian sauce called kecap… and Maya Kaimal’s particular spin on Spicy Ketchup is inspired by the sweet and spicy type of original kecap that is still served in India. The sauce’s sweetness stems from brown sugar, while its spiciness lies in its hot chilies. This is not your standard Heinz. Taste something else? Toasted cumin, paprika and a blend of other sub-continent spices make this ketchup truly more than a ketchup. The result? A simply outstanding condiment for burgers, hot dogs and French fries, but equally as unappalling to pour over sausages, shrimp, eggs, and even (gasp) steak!

Maya Kaimal has certainly created a new spin on ketchup, but when do we get it in packet size?

eric...Eric: Condiments seem to be emerging as their own food classification, and with good reason — they’re _spectacular_. I am a glutton when it comes to condiments, my favorite being the classic fry sauce (a mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise). More specifically, I enjoy the flavor they impart. Ever try a spicy mango chutney on a turkey burger? Delicious…

I was a little taken aback when I first encountered Maya Kaimal Spicy Ketchup. I truly thought it was spicy pureed tomatoes in a jar and nothing special. Then I opened the bottle and smelled the ketchup. Instantly I had hints of coriander, cumin and chilies filling my nose; it was as if I walked into the kitchen of an Indian restaurant during service. I was intrigued and soon became hooked, experimenting with the sauce on chicken, tofu, sandwiches and even my favorite fry sauce. The spice is subtle, yet sweet. The flavor profile is Indian, yet all-purpose. And the simple fact is, this is a condiment you’ll learn to appreciate.