Ryan Grobler named Lal’s Sweet Chili Sauce after his mother, Lal, yet the company’s original sauce recipe was developed by Grobler’s great-grandmother in Africa. Lal was raised on a farm in Zimbabwe before moving to South Africa; she eventually immigrated to the United States.

Grobler has vivid childhood memories of his mother making the sweet chile sauce and remembers a bottle always being kept in the refrigerator or on the shelf. Grobler now shares his family’s signature sauce with all of Kansas City, producing Lal’s original sauce along with three other flavors. Spicier versions of the four sauces as well as two new flavors are currently in development.

Tell us more about the origin of the sauce. The original recipe was discovered in Lal’s grandmother’s cookbook and was given to her by an Indian gentleman who made a form of it as a relish. The recipe was passed down through generations and changed slightly from the original. A bottle of Lal’s was always in the fridge and was used at dinner parties or on a daily basis. Friends and family loved the sauce and always complimented Lal on the recipe. We loved it growing up and continue to enjoy it with our families now. The recipe still remains closely guarded.

Why did you decide to bottle and sell the sauce? I always made the sauce, having the recipe from my mother. People absolutely loved the flavor when we used it at home or took some as a gift to parties. We slowly allowed people in the market to taste it and give a thumbs up or thumbs down, and we got an overwhelming yes. That pushed me into starting production of the sauce in October 2018.

How did you develop the other flavors? I decided to research other flavors that would allow for a larger audience. I met chef Yahia Kamal [of Yummy’s Choice in Kansas City] several years prior and spoke about this project. He showed interest in helping develop and market Lal’s Sweet Chili Sauce. Chef Kamal whipped up several flavors for testing, and we decided on the original, chipotle, horseradish and raspberry.

Where are the sauces sold? They’re sold in 20-plus grocery stores throughout the Kansas City area, including Cosentino’s [Market], HyVee, McGonigle’s Market and Price Chopper. Our first pallets have shipped to Denver. We will distribute across several states over the next few months. The sauce can also be purchased online and shipped anywhere in the U.S.

Lal’s Sweet Chili Sauce, lalssweetchili.com

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Writer Pete Dulin is the author of Kansas City Beer: A History of Brewing in the Heartland, KC Ale Trail, and Expedition of Thirst: Exploring Breweries, Wineries and Distilleries Across Central Kansas and Missouri.

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