Meals in a jar are usually catered to people who don’t cook. But that was not the focus for 27-year-old Stephen Vaz, a young Bramptonian who began Eudora’s Fine Foods in 2010. For Stephen, it’s about preserving the freshest ingredients with a lot of flavour to create healthy, exotic meals that can easily be unleashed with the simple twist of a lid.
Eudora’s is named after his mother, for the heart of his business comes from long-held family recipes for Indian sauces and chutneys. Stephen prides himself for using only organic ingredients, locally sourced whenever possible, and produced right here in Brampton!
Stephen strives to give an authentic home-style Indian meal in every jar. But more important is his approach to educating people’s palates, encouraging them to easily explore international cuisine without travelling any further than a few new aisles at the grocery store.
Where does his moral subconscious come from. “Some of it comes from school, as our approach to food stemmed from sustainability for the greater good, not just for profit alone.” Stephen went to university for food science & engineering and upon graduation worked in research & development and quality control for large food processing plants. His career was short lived and, soon after, he moved to an all natural approach and a healthier way of life, working for himself.
His ability to balance taste and nutrition is scientifically based. “I’m not a chef; my food education is lab oriented. There are lots of sides when it comes to food, and not everybody understands that.” His love for food began at a young age, when he would assist his mother in the kitchen. His product line initially began with four flavours – Khaldin, Kofta Curry, Coconut Curry and Vindaloo – and now includes almost 20 different marinades, tapanades, year-round & seasonal sauces, chutneys and some non-Indian sauces. Found in finer boutique grocery stores across the GTA and Southern Ontario, Eudora’s is sought out at fine food and wine shows, as well as festivals and select farmers’ markets. The pungent flavours contained in each jar offer plenty of taste sensations, especially those packed with a bit of heat, for there is a subtle crescendo as the flavour builds, never actually exploding.
It’s simple cooking, as most of Eudora’s sauces are mixed into the dish on the stove. “Pan fry chicken or vegetables and, when cooked half way, just add one of our cooking sauces and continue to saute and simmer, and serve on a bed of rice when done.” As Stephen prepares a regular stir fry with an Indian influence, he assures us it doesn’t take much to add a little spice to your kitchen repertoire by trying something different that comes with a serious shortcut.
With global cuisine and multiculturalism, expanding your palate to explore different flavours has never been easier; just start with like-flavoured cuisine. “People want to be creative, but they don’t want to buy too many new things. South American, Mexican, Spanish and Indian foods have a similar spice palate, so it’s easy to repurpose some of those ingredients to cook more variety.” Stephen explains how most Indian and Mexican dishes share cumin, coriander and cinnamon as spices, but if we were to cook Chinese, the ingredients would need to change completely. “Let’s say tonight, I want to cook Moroccan; I would just have to add sumac to my spice inventory and I could easily create a whole new taste sensation along with what I already have.”
No matter where you are geographically from, everyone has similar local ingredients, but it’s the ratios of the ingredients that change. Mexican cuisine tends to utilize more fresh ingredients, while Indian meals tend to slow cook, like lamb and stews. Stephen’s family is from the coast so they tend to use more fish, as Goa is a fishing nation, once a Portuguese colony. It is this heritage that inspires him to prepare an Indian influenced ceviche, where he cures fresh seafood in citrus such as lemon or lime.
“It’s a little scary putting raw scallops into acid to cook them, but waiting a couple of hours while the citrus cures the fish gives it a nice refreshing bite.” Stephen explains that, if he had fresh quality seafood, the process would take minutes, but as Brampton is not a coastal city and the fish was the freshest around, he chose to let it sit for 2 to 3 hours. It’s true; there is a little zing in it. “That’s the mango cilantro sauce,” he says with a smile.
For Stephen, the secret to cooking is having fun, learning to play with your food, exploring new tastes and techniques. “I like cooking for people; it’s fun, and I love it when I provide people a new taste sensation, like the Mango Cilantro meatballs,” he explains how he substituted for the Italian tomato base with a jar of his latest Eudora’s Mango Cilantro cooking sauce. We could only imagine how much conversation followed those first bites.
But Stephen is right, we have forgotten the simple rule for playing with our food. Everyone is always in a rush, so exploring new things in the kitchen is sometimes difficult. With Eudora’s, adding a teaspoon or two of Khaldin to pasta, or a smidgen of Diablo Chutney or Carrot Pickle or Spicy Olive Tapenade to a burger, adds a little exotic to the everyday.
As Brampton embraces its young entrepreneurs while they pave the way into a bold new creative economy, it’s nice to know Stephen, with Eudora’s Find Foods is bringing good healthy food to our dinner tables and winning our hearts through our stomachs.
- 250 ml Eudora’s Pineapple Basil sauce
- a few mushrooms, sliced
- ¼ cup diced red pepper
- ¼ cup diced red onion
- ¼ cup celery, sliced
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a small amount of olive oil in a wok or pan.
- Add the vegetables and stir them around in the oil for 3 minutes.
- You can add some soy sauce, or sesame oil, or even lemon grass at this stage if you wish.
- Add the pineapple basil sauce and bring the sauce to a boil for # minutes.
- Serve over jasmine rice or long grain rice.
- You can also garnish with some cashews or toasted sesame seeds.
- For the lentils
- 1 cup red lentils
- 250 ml Eudora’s Coconut curry
- For the spinach
- 2 cups chopped spinach
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- ¼ cup Eudora’s Indian Green Curry
- For the crostini
- 1 cup ricotta or chevre cheese
- 2 tbsp Eudora’s Olive Tapenade or Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 french or ciabatta baguette
- parmesan cheese (optional)
- Rinse lentils using a sieve.
- Add lentils to a small pot with a little over 2 cups of water.
- Cook for about 20 minutes on medium-low heat until the water has been absorbed.
- Add 250 ml of Eudora’s Coconut curry sauce and salt to taste.
- Bring to a boil, then remove from heat, stir and let sit covered for later.
- Make a roux for the spinach by mixing the butter and flour as follows:
- Add 2 tbsp of butter to a sauce pan on medium-low and let it melt.
- Add 2 tbsp flour and stir it in.
- Add the chopped spinach and let it wilt, should only take a few minutes.
- Add the Indian Green Curry and some salt and pepper.
- Remove from heat and let sit.
- When ready to assemble:
- Cut the baguette on a bias to get diagonal slices.
- Drizzle with some olive oil and toast in the oven.
- Mix the ricotta cheese and Tapenade.
- Pour the balsamic into a small saucepan and let it reduce by half to create a thicker sauce
- When the bread is ready, remove from oven and place on a board or serving dish.
- Spread the cheese first, then add the lentil mixture, and top with the greens.
- When all the crostini have been assembled, drizzle the balsamic reduction over them and top with some grated parmesan cheese.
- 1 lb bay scallops (or shrimp or whitefish or combination)
- 8 limes, juiced (or about 250 ml lime juice)
- 1 roma tomato, diced
- ½ red bell pepper, diced
- ½ avocado, diced
- ½ mango, diced
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro
- 125 ml Eudora’s Mango Cilantro Sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- jalapeno pepper (optional)
- Make sure the seafood is VERY fresh.
- Cut the scallops into bite-size pieces and place in a bowl with the lime juice. Make sure that the scallops are completely immersed in the lime juice. Let sit covered for a few hours, in the fridge, until the scallops are opaque.
- Drain off about half of the lime juice.
- Mix the scallops with all the other ingredients and serve!
- If you do not wish to eat raw fish, you can also cook the scallops or fish in the mango cilantro sauce for a few minutes, then let cool, refrigerate and assemble.
- In this case, use 4 limes or 4 oz of lime juice when you are mixing all the other ingredients.
- This is to be served cold.