The United States is the birthplace of so many delightful fusion dishes, from kimchi burritos to birria ramen. It’s also the home of many immigrant-owned food businesses. And there’s one in Beaverton that’s on the rise: Khalsa Salsa, an Indian and Mexican-inspired salsa business that husband-and-wife team Sukhdev Singh and Rippy Kaur founded in 2019.
Years ago, the couple, who immigrated from India in the ‘80s and ‘90s, never would have imagined starting a food business. Singh was an engineer, and Kaur was a health physicist, though they loved cooking Indian food at home—sometimes for dinner parties of 80 people. Then, at a work party over twenty years ago, a coworker brought chips and salsa to an office party.
“I was just blown away, it was so delicious,” says Singh, “We use a lot of tomatoes and onions and chutneys also in our meals, so it reminded me [of that].” After trying out the salsa recipe as written, he started experimenting with different spices to achieve that chatpata taste often found in Indian chaat—a balance of sweet, tangy, and spicy all at the same time. Their current recipes use a blend of around 15 Indian spices, such as Indian black salt.
Their business took off after the duo enrolled in a PCC class called Getting Your Recipe to Market. A Vice President from Market of Choice, unbeknownst to them, went around the room at the end of the class tasting all the products and asked to sell their salsas, says Singh. A month later, their products were on shelves.
The business faced struggles when they had to stop doing grocery store samples—which is how they’ve found most of their loyal customers—and farmers markets early in the pandemic. But now both Singh and Kaur are dedicating themselves to the business full-time.
There’s also a giving back component to Khalsa Salsa. The word khalsa, which translates to pure, also refers to a Sikh who has embraced a certain code of conduct. “That means not just the physical attributes of keeping your hair and turban, but also living a honest life, a life of integrity, of giving and forgiving,” explains Singh. Accordingly, they donate to causes including the Oregon Food Bank, the Virginia Garcia clinic, which provides health care services to low-income communities in Washington and Yamhill Counties, and Khalsa Aid, which provides relief from manmade and natural disasters.
We're particular fans of the mango habanero, the spiciest of the bunch with chunks of juicy mango that invite you to keep eating even as your mouth burns, and the much milder black bean salsa, with red jalapeños and chunks of tomato onion balanced by creamy, earthy black beans. And there are a lot more ways to eat this salsa than just straight-up with chips, says Singh. One customer suggested swirling the classic salsa into queso for a creamy, cheesy dip; Singh, meanwhile, recommends adding a spoonful of any of the salsas to a baked potato with sour cream. For a full-on meal that’s perfect for chilly temps or rainy days, try this recipe for sweet potato soup using Khalsa’s black bean salsa.
Khalsa Salsa’s three salsas—classic tomato salsa, black bean salsa, and mango habanero—are now available at Market of Choice, several New Seasons locations, World Foods, Green Zebra, and several farmers markets.
Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup With Black Bean Salsa
By Khalsa Salsa
- 2 tbsp neutral oil
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1/2 tbsp chopped Fresno peppers, deseeded (adjust to taste)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tbsp heaped tomato paste
- 2 medium sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2" pieces
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 tablespoon chipotles in adobo
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 2-3 tbsp Khalsa Salsa Black Bean Salsa
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Toppings: 1 tbsp Khalsa Salsa Black Bean Salsa, avocado slices, chopped jalapeño or fresno chiles, cilantro, sour cream
- In a large stockpot, sauté onions & carrots in oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Do not brown.
- Add garlic, fresno pepper, tomato paste, cumin powder, and salt. Sauté for 30 seconds.
- Add vegetable stock, water, sweet potatoes, and chipotle pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer about 20-30 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender.
- Puree the soup with an immersion blender. Mix in the sour cream and salsa.
- Ladle into bowls. Garnish with heaped spoons of Khalsa Salsa black bean salsa, avocado slices, chili slices and cilantro. Add another dollop of sour cream if desired. Serve hot.