By Laurelle Walsh
Methow Masala combines the name of a river valley in North Central Washington with a less-familiar word meaning a mixture of ground spices. Together they name a new shop opening in Winthrop, as well as the line of Indian spice blends sold therein.
Occupying the space that was once Rocking Horse Bakery’s storefront, Methow Masala is the latest retail venture of bakery owners Steve and Teresa Mitchell.
“Masala can mean a mixture of spices, but it also means an interesting blend of things,” said Teresa Mitchell. “Our family’s mix of culture and ideas led us to the vision of this store,” which blends Mitchell’s love of the Methow Valley with her love of India, she said.
Inside Methow Masala, shoppers will find an array of fresh and prepared foods, handmade kitchen utensils, tableware and gadgets for the culinary arts. Most every item on the shelves was made in the Methow Valley; those that are not were produced in nearby communities like Waterville, Leavenworth and Rock Island, Washington.
Screen-printed linens from Door No. 3, glass tumblers from Lucid Glassworks, ceramic mugs made by Emily Post, and beeswax candles from Bee Light will set the Methow-made table, while Sunny Pine cheeses, Misty Fjord salmon, Bluebird Grains pilaf and fresh fruit from Booth Canyon Orchard will stock the pantry.
Carrying Methow-made goods supports the Mitchells’ ethic of “sustainable living melded with sustainable business practice,” Mitchell said. “We know these people, and it makes me feel good to carry their products,” she added.
The store is very much connected to Rocking Horse — customers may enter off the boardwalk or through an interior hallway — and some bakery items can be purchased in Methow Masala, such as packaged granola and loaves of bread. Other items, such as spreadable cheeses and preserves “compliment what’s in the bakery,” said Mitchell. “You can basically buy a trail lunch here.”
Methow Masala spice blends and condiments are unique to the store, although customers familiar with Rocking Horse’s tandoori turkey sandwich or lentil dhal will recognize the flavors.
Six spice blends are for sale, made from whole spices which Mitchell roasts, grinds and blends herself.
The tandoori masala, aromatic curry, sambhar masala, Sri Lankan masala, panch phorom and Bengali mustard masala are sold in pouches that preserve their freshness, and free recipes come with the spices for those new to Indian cuisine.
“The recipes are meant to be accessible. There are no weird ingredients,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell’s passion for spices started with her travels in South Asia after college. As she encountered new cuisines, she was impressed by the simple foods with exotic flavors. “I’ve always loved complex flavors. Some masalas have 12 to 15 ingredients,” she said.
“What we think of as curry powder is actually masala. Curry is an Anglicized term that really means ‘gravy,’ adopted from the Tamil word for ‘sauce,’” she said.
Mitchell sold her spice blends under another brand name in the early 2000s when the family was living in Northern California. She also taught Indian cooking classes there, which she said are “on the horizon” for the Methow Valley.
Methow Masala opens its doors on Friday (Nov. 28). Store hours are 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 9 a.m. – noon on Sundays.
Find Methow Masala on Facebook, at www.methowmasala.com, or call 996-4240.