Friday, January 8, 2016

Little Hati Offers Authentic Indian Dishes, Spices, and More...

As my readers know, I love anything Handmade.  And what is more enticing than some scrumptious and tantalizing dishes that are prepared by someone who loves what she does. Kayla, the artisan behind the unique cuisine of LITTLE HATI, has handcrafted some exotic choices. Kayla was kind enough to be my guest artisan today and she graciously allowed me to interview her about her Etsy shop and the story behind her business. So sit back and enjoy Kayla's interview...

Question: What is the name of your shop and do you have a story behind that name?
Answer: The name is Little Hati. Hati (pronounced, "Hah-tee") is the Hindi word for Elephant. I adore elephants and on a date at the zoo with my husband (then boyfriend), Lakshman, Hati was the first Hindi word he ever taught me! When I was trying to think up an Indian-themed name for my business that memory popped into my head and I knew it would be perfect!

Originally I was going to call it, "Hey, Hati!" because I love alliteration. But as I was painting up the sign, Lakshman came in and saw it and said, "Actually...You might not want to name it that... Sometimes 'Hati' is used as an insult so if you call out to somebody, 'Hey Hati!' it's kind of rude." Thankfully I hadn't gotten too far with the sign so it wasn't that big of a deal to scrap it!


Question: Do you currently have a favorite item in you shop you'd like to tell us about?
Answer: Yes! I have two, actually! My absolute favorite food in the entire world is Chicken Tikka Masala. Oooh, it's so delicious! It's creamy and spicy and sweet and just absolutely amazing!

I first discovered the dish on my Honeymoon. We ate at this little hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant every single day because I couldn't get enough of the stuff. When we got home I knew I would have to figure out how to recreate it because I couldn't live without it. I went through fifteen recipes! I cried after each one. Lakshman is not a big foodie, so he did not understand how I could get that upset about food. It took me a full year of failure to finally perfect the recipe. Then I wanted to share the food with the world! That's how the Little Hati Tikka Masala Dinner Kit was born!
Chai Tea Kit
It has all the spices (three whole baggies full of 'em!) plus the amazing Himalayan Basmati rice so you can make Tikka Masala at home without the tears and guess-work that I went through!

My second favorite thing in my shop is my Chai Tea Kit. I love warm tea, especially in the winter! And one winter we were over at a Nepali friend's house and she made us all a big pot of chai. I was so amazed at the exotic blend of flavors, the beauty of the whole spices, I begged her for the recipe. She's super nice so she walked me through each step and each spice so I could make it at home! 

Chai Tea
All the whole spices you need, plus the authentic Tokla Black Tea, is in the kit, and the directions are so easy! You just steep everything in some water and milk! It uses Jaggery, which is an Indian sugar, and waaaay less processed than white sugar, which gives it such a smooth sweet taste, and makes it a healthier option for people who like sweetness, but want to be healthy.

Question: Where or how do you find your greatest inspiration?
Answer: India! My husband is Nepali, and the Nepalese and Indian cultures are very similar. He's fluent in both Nepalese and Hindi so we watch a lot of Bollywood! I not only fell in love with my husband, I fell in love with his culture too! The colors are breathtaking, the music is beautiful, the people are kind, and the food is delicious. I get inspired every time we go out to eat at an Indian restaurant, shop for spices at an Indian Bazaar, watch a great Hindi movie (Sharukh Khan is King of Hindi movies. He's awesome!), or basically anything else! I find great inspiration from nature, and India and Nepal are full of mountains and jungles and just absolutely beautiful scenery, so that really gets the wheels of my mind turning!

Question: What is the best/worst, or most amusing interaction you've experienced with a buyer?
Answer: Oh, there are so many! During Market-Season (spring-summer) I sell at a local Farmer's Market. I had my Elephant Banners on display and a few loose Elephants laid out on the table.  I told my employee named Amber) that if kids came along and really loved the elephants but their parents wouldn't buy a banner for them, to just go ahead and give them one of the loose elephants, 'cause I love kids and I remember the anguish I felt when mom and dad wouldn't let me get something amazing at a craft fair.  I don't have kids, so I did not realize what an impossible request I was making of them.

Well, a family came up with six daughters, all of them so sweet and cute and all of them desperately eyeing the elephants. I only had exactly six loose elephants left! Well, market day wasn't over, so I wanted to keep at least a few elephants for the next kids to come along. So I told the girls, "Okay, you can have two elephants! And ya'll share with each other!" Immediately six little hands reached out and grabbed all my elephants. I kept trying to yell, "You only get two! You girls can share!" over the giggles and elephant noises but there was no way I was getting any of those elephants back. I watched them run through the market with smiles on their faces and my little Mehndi Elephants gripped in their tiny hands and I thought, "Oh, well. At least the last elephants went to girls who are really enjoying them!"

Question:  Do you have any tips that might help another shop owner to better present their products?
Answer: My best advice is: Be passionate about whatever you're doing! The more you love it, the easier it is to work on it. You'll be more inclined to give it your best effort, and you won't be as discouraged when you hit a dry spell, because you love it so much! Second Best Advice: Photography is important. Spend a little time and energy on your set up, styling, lighting, and editing. Give your products (that you love because you're passionate about them, right?) their best possible showcase!

Question: Can you remember what your first sell felt like? How did you celebrate?
Answer: I don't remember the specific first sale, but I remember the first market day. Winter was just thawing out so it was still frosty in the morning, even with the sun shining, and I was so nervous. I had invested so much into this business! What if it was a failure? What if no one here liked Indian food!? But it turns out the people in my neck of East Texas woods had been starving for Indian food all this time! I sold out within the first two hours. I still get that nervous feeling before each market day, and I don't always sell out, but any time I see someone walking away with a kit and I realize that this might be their first experience with Indian food, or maybe they're giving it as a gift and someone out there in the world is going to be enjoying my Tikka Masala, or Chai, or Spicy Potatoes, or whatever, I get this thrill in my stomach and I feel so happy and proud! It's amazing.

I celebrate every good market day with a banquet of Indian Street food at home! I make Naan, Samosas, Chutneys, Pickles, and, of course, Tikka Masala and I pig out while dreaming of all the happy families that get to enjoy these exotic meals for the first time!

Question:  Can you describe your creative zone or area? Is it inside or outside your home?
Answer: The kitchen is, of course, a big creative zone for me! I love my spices. Sometimes I just sit and stare at their beauty. I don't even have to cook with them, they just make me happy! Then there's a big window in my living room where I take all my food photos. Lighting is crucial, and you just can't get any better than that soft, filtered, natural light streaming through the window. I have a few beautiful sarees so i like to use them as my backdrop! 
For the paintings and crafts side of my business I actually like to be outside with the fresh air filling my lungs and the forest across from my house inspiring me with all the colors and sounds! Of course, if I'm working at night I have to be at my kitchen table. It's just me and my husband here, so we could get by with a smaller table. But I had to get one of those big tables that seat 6-8 people and keep the leaf in it so I can spread my work out!

Question:  Where can we find your products?

Answer: I have my shop, Little Hati, on Etsy. I sell through Facebook (Little Hati Indian Dinners) and Instagram (#LittleHatiMeals) and over the phone and at the Farmer's Market. It's not a huge company-type thing, so I like to take orders personally and deliver or ship them personally too! You can email me at LittleHati@yahoo.com to place an order or check out any of the above mentioned places to see what all I offer. 

I'm constantly brainstorming and getting inspired, so I offer new stuff all the time! Mostly I just want to spread the love of Indian food and India-inspired things throughout the world. So, if you've never had Indian food before, don't hesitate to order! It's so delicious! 


Do you have a special cuisine that you enjoy cooking and sharing with others? Drop a comment, I love to hear about your food adventures.



3 comments:

  1. Wonderful interview, Kayla. Thank you again for being a guest on my blog. I'm a lover of Chai Tea, so I'm going to have to try some of yours. Best of success with your business.

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  2. Very nice interview. Always enjoy learning what motivates people to enjoy what they do.

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  3. My daughter adores Indian food so I will be ordering a kit for her as a wedding gift. It is so nice to see an artist so passionate about their work. You have inspired me not to give up on my business and to get to my local farmer's market to spread the word locally about my Etsy shop.
    Great interview! BTW my daughter's name is....you guessed it....Kayla!

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