I go through food phases. Right now I am in a Mexican phase. Hand me a taco and I am a happy girl. So imagine my delight when I met Kawal, owner and driving force behind Kawalsa, at the Ottawa LAFF. Kawalsa is an all natural salsa made from mostly local ingredients (Ottawa still has a hard time growing limes), that has the well earned tag line – scoop. savour. smile. Kawal was nice enough to answer some of my questions.

Simply Fresh: You are relatively new to the Ottawa food scene – how did you get your start in salsa?

Kawal from Kawalsa: I have always enjoyed cooking and canning salsa. Year after year, after copious amounts were eaten by my friends, and very little left for myself, a suggestion was made that I should be selling my product.  With no prior knowledge in the food industry, I cautiously attended a weekend market in Nova Scotia, over my summer vacation and was absolutely blown away with the results. I was surprised to see that everyone was interested in the salsa, to the point, that people were coming back with their mother and husband to buy more. Needless to say, I came home with empty cases and ideas brewing inside my head. After doing my homework, I hired a graphic designer( my homemade labels were just not going to cut it here in Ottawa.), and a web designer to begin this salsa journey. And I must say that without the help from Andrew Craig ( www.majorcraigs.ca) and James Watt (www.manotickvillagebutcher.com)  I would have not been able to get this exciting venture of the ground.

Why salsa? Was it a family recipe?

Well, to be totally honest, I HATE runny salsa, so one day I decided that it should be easy enough to make. Fast forward 20 years, and here I am!
The Lone Star’s salsa would be great if it was thicker!!
No, no family recipe. Being East Indian, the only salsa I ever had was chutney….lol

What is your favourite way to use your salsa?

My favorite way to use salsa/chutney; tough question because there are so many different variations that it can be used. I apply my Rhubarb Lime Ginger chutney to the outside of the chicken when I baste it. The sugar caramelizes and it gives an amazing sweet tart crunchy taste to the chicken. Using the same chutney, I can also throw a tablespoon on top of a bowl of vanilla ice cream. As for the salsa, I would have to say that the fruit salsa and smoked salsa are two of my favorite. The fruit has its own unique sweet flavour, which can be used on almost any meat and/or on veggies. The smoked salsa is absolutely great on pizza!!!! The smoke taste brings the different flavours of the pizza to a whole new level, changing a regular tasting pizza into something more.

Your salsas are made from mostly local ingredients sourced from the Parkdale market, what benefits do you find in purchasing your ingredients from local farmers?

I would like to believe that I am helping out the little person and local farmer and not some company which produces mass quantity of crap loaded with pesticides. And the fact that you can taste the freshness right away and knowing that it did not take 5 days to get from the ground, to a semi-trailer to a store counter to finally my plate.

Where can people find your salsas?

Being brand new to the food scene, my product is currently available at the Manotick Village Butcher and in the New Year, it will be available at the Life of Pie.(www.lifeofpie.caas in a few other speciality stores. My website(www.kawalsa.com) is should be up soon, with more locations. But if someone in the Ottawa region is looking for a jar or two, I can arrange to have it delivered to them.

Thanks Kawal!

I’ve had the pleasure of trying a variety of Kawalsa products including the Fruit Salsa, Smoked Salsa and Rhubarb Lime Ginger Chutney – fantastic. Just fantastic. They are so flavourful and bright. I love the chunks of vegetables and I love how healthy they are. Like I said, I am in a bit of a Mexican food phase right now so I have been craving a lot of salsa. Read: eating a lot of nachos. I was shocked to compare my old Tostitos salsa to Kawalsa. Per serving, Tostitos had over 720mg of sodium compared to 70mg in Kawalsa… but that is not the most shocking thing. Serving size for Tostitos salsa: 2 TBSP (15ml). Ok… serving size for Kawalsa.

Hold onto your socks because they are about to get knocked off…

The entire 40g (200ml) jar.

Couldn’t hold onto those puppies could you? I will give you a second to go get your socks.

Healthy, local and such amazing flavour, this salsa is like a party in your mouth and only the cool kids are invited… and it is an open bar. And you are rocking your skinny jeans. AND there was a $20 in the pocket from the last time you wore them.

Keep an eye out for Kawalsa, visit Life of Pie or feel free to contact Kawal directly to get your hot little hands on some. You will thank me.