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Sana’s Quest

A turmeric evangelist connects a newly hip spice back to its Indian roots.

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Sana Javeri Kadri

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Diaspora Co.’s pragati turmeric stands out for its potent flavor and its vibrant orange hue.

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For all of the obvious reasons, 2016 was a stressful year to be an immigrant in America. But Oakland’s Sana Javeri Kadri, a self-described “queer, Muslim, recently green-card-carrying immigrant,” experienced an additional level of weirdness: That was the year Kadri watched Gwyneth Paltrow “Columbus” turmeric. Suddenly, the “golden latte” was the Goop-approved, antioxidant-rich toast of the town. Really, though, the drink was a rebranding of an Indian home remedy of milk, turmeric, black pepper, and honey. Kadri figured if turmeric was going to be trendy, then at the very least, she wanted “brown farmers to make as much money off of it as possible.”

So last summer, Kadri founded Diaspora Co., a direct-trade company specializing in pragati turmeric, a potent varietal for which she pays farmers in her native India roughly four times the going rate. A 100-gram jar sells for $10 through Diaspora Co.’s website. If a golden latte isn’t your cup of tea, you can try the turmeric in cocktail form at Emeryville’s Navi Kitchen in the Golden Child, which chef Preeti Mistry says is “delicate and delicious.” Kadri makes turmeric-cumin rice with it; she also puts a spoonful, with some ghee, in her morning coffee. Just a little goes a long way. 

 

Originally published in the February issue of San Francisco 

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