Nikhil Shankaran Kutty And Tanya Nambiar, The Duo Behind El Diablo Sauces
If James Bond was the one that said “The name’s Bond, James Bond” You will definitely catch Nikhil Shankaran Kutty saying, “Do you even sauce, bro?” Well, why not, he is a New Delhi-based Saucier (or sauce maker) and like Bond, he has a pickup line that he is proud of, and it goes well with his profession too, like James Bond. So, we think it’s a keeper!
Wait, there is more—he is not alone. Kutty runs his sauce company with his wife Tanya Nambiar—singer-songwriter, voice-over artist, and model by day, and marketing and PR professional by, umm… convenience—or that’s what we think it is for now (since their are still setting up the firm). And together they are the creative heads behind El Diablo Sauces—a line of full-bodied, fresh and uniquely flavour sauces, that comes with no added preservatives… just love!
Fun fact, the company is named after Kutty’s dog, Diablo, which we thought was the coolest gesture of appreciation one could give to man’s best friend! The company started on March 1st, this year, and thanks to their Smoked Green Chili sauce and much more, El Diablo Sauces is quickly becoming a crowd favourite in New Delhi.
We catch up with the duo, who tells us more about the firm, naming the company after Kutty’s dog, the challenges they faced (and still do), the type of sauces they produce, and more.
Could you take us through the early days of El Diablo Sauces—how did the company come into being, a little back story, please?
Nikhil: El Diablo sauces started off as a random idea while talking to Tanya, who then kept eating my head till I actually made the product. Once I came up with the flavour, it was easy to come up with the rest. We gave out a few samples to friends and family and they absolutely loved it and came back asking for more. That is when we knew we had created something great and thus, El Diablo sauces were born.
Tanya: I am all about being an entrepreneur. I’ve been doing it for the last 8 years. Once we got married, I was always pushing Nikhil to start something of his own. We had numerous fights about what to start as a business and one day he just made this sauce and I knew that was it.
Nikhil, your firm is named after your dog Diablo. Why did you think he would be a suitable name for your brand?
Nikhil: The name El Diablo seemed to suit the brand because of its double meaning. Diablo my dog, was the most loyal, big-hearted best friend I could have ever asked for, with an even bigger temper. Diablo literally translates to the devil and I thought that was the best possible name for the sauces.
The USP of El Diablo Sauces?
Nikhil: Unique flavour notes, full bodied fresh sauces with no added preservatives at an economical price.
Tanya: The unique flavours. Such a variety, there is something for everyone.
Tanya, as the co-founder of the company and being as creative as your husband, how do you contribute to pushing the company further?
Tanya: My job is to push him (laughs). So, he is the chief sauce maker and I am the chief money maker! Nikhil handles the creation of the sauces and the design and the artwork. And I handle the marketing and PR. As of now, since it is just the two of us, we both handle the sales. Further, I come up with unique ways to place this product in front of its audience.
Nikhil, you started as a chef in London and you were also the Food & Beverage Manager of Striker. Tanya, you too quit a cosy corporate job and got into music full time. Why do you think quitting your comfy jobs and taking the road less travelled was the calling for you two?
Nikhil: I always wanted to make my own mark in the world. That being said it didn’t mean that I needed to quit my job but that was the best way to push myself.
Tanya: I believe everyone has great ideas but only a few of them work to develop those ideas. Life is too short to not try out your passion, right?
The challenges so far?
Nikhil: Well we are a start-up, so finances are always a big challenge. Then there is the challenge of explaining to people the differences between us and other available sauces in the market. Working with the wife can be a nightmare (laughs).
Tanya: Yeah, working with your partner is a big challenge. Finances are always challenging. To start a business, one requires a lot of capital.
Could you take us through your sauce making process, please?
Nikhil: The sauce making process is something I look forward to the most because it’s the one area where there is no intrusion from the wife. Let’s say I am making the Smoked Green Chili sauce which is one of our hot sellers, the first thing I do is to go and explore the market for the freshest and best ingredients. For this particular sauce, I smoke the green chillies for 6-8 hours and it is this process that gives this sauce a unique flavour.
Tanya: I am not allowed to enter the cooking area. I am only called in to taste the sauces.
You could have picked anything for starting a restaurant, to doing something with alcohol, why sauces? How does the sauce market in India look like in 2017?
Nikhil: The sauce market is every growing in India. People are now more curious to try out new flavours. The reason I picked sauces is because it is a simple product that people use every day and I want to be a part of peoples’ everyday life.
Tanya: Sauces are something that goes with everything. We wanted to create a simple, affordable product.
Could you take us through all the varieties you have so far? The taste notes of all of them, and your favourites, please?
Nikhil: We have seven varieties. Our sauces fall under three broad categories:
The mild and sweet:
Mango garlic sauce—sweet and tangy, our answer to the everyday ketchup.
Pineapple Chili Punch—a fruity, peppery sweet sauce.
Chilimon—a zesty, citron, chilli sauce.
The spicy and savoury:
Smoked green chili—a smoky, flavourful, green chilli sauce.
Hot red chili—a thick red chilli sauce with a punch.
The super spicy ghosts:
Cranberry Ghost Chili—a fruity, fiery, ghost chilli sauce.
Super-hot Ghost Chili—the spiciest sauce we have available which is meant for real hot heads.
My favourites are the Smoked Green chilli for my grilled cheese sandwiches and the Super-Hot Ghost chilli. I like my sauces like I like my wife—Hot!
Tanya: Wow. Nikhil just complimented me. That’s a first. My favourites are the Mango Garlic and Smoked green chilli.
Is there anything like a perfect sauce? If yes, could you describe it for us?
Nikhil: If there is, I am going to enjoy the journey trying to find it and hopefully create it.
Tanya: I do believe we have the perfect brand for sauce lovers.
Plans for the future?
Nikhil: Hopefully we hit retail by the end of the year and on every table in every household and restaurant. As I always say, “Do you even sauce bro?”
Tanya: Be available everywhere!
Place your orders here.
Ghost chilli variants: Rs 150; All other: Rs 100 (120 grams per bottle).
The sauces are currently available only in New Delhi. Other avenues opening soon.