Center for Culinary Enterprises (CCE) Client Aaji’s tomato lonsa is a Philly grandmother’s tasty act of love
When Poorva and Rajus Korde moved to the Philadelphia area with their new baby, shipments of homemade food followed from Rajus’ parents, Arvind and Vijoo, who were living in Michigan. “My mother and my mother-in-law grew up treating food as a way to nurture, to heal, to comfort,” said Vijoo Korde, a native of the Indian state of Maharashtra.
Among the dishes she sent was lonsa, a spicy-sweet-tart tomato condiment that can accompany just about any savory dish — atop eggs and chicken, as a sandwich spread, mixed into rice, or even on flatbread. (Say it “LOAN-sa,” and it’s sometimes spelled “lonche” in its transliteration from Marathi.) Rajus and Poorva Korde shared the lonsa with friends to great acclaim, and last year the couple brought it to market under the brand name Aaji’s — Marathi for grandmother.
Getting it to the people is key, said Rajus Korde, who was in Starbucks’ digital-commerce group while his wife was in health-care administration. Maharashtrian cuisine — unlike cuisines of other Indian regions — is unfamiliar in the Philadelphia area, he said. As an example of lonsa’s versatility, consider the Kordes’ partnership with Primal Supply, the boutique butcher. Chef Damon Menapace hosts hot dog pop-ups outside the Primal shops, and last month topped a hot dog with spicy garlic lonsa, yogurt, and vinegar chips. They will be sold from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26 at the South Philadelphia location, at 1538 E. Passyunk Ave.