Sohla El-Waylly started with a mission to make a refreshing, Dorito-free road trip snack—that could compete with the deliciousness of Doritos.
But, along the way, she invented a happy trick for loving and eating more vegetables anytime, anywhere. On a blanket in the park, on your back porch, or—maybe most conveniently right now—at your desk, as an instant crunchy side for all those slapped together work-from-home lunches.
The solution she came up with was Ranch Fun Dip: a little jar of an umami-packed spice blend with the herby, oniony flavors of ranch dressing, a bigger jar with crudités (and a splash of water to keep them fresh). All of it is happy at room temperature (or car temperature) for hours. It even fits in a cup holder!
Sohla was inspired by idli podi (also called milagai or milaga podi or gunpowder spice), a dry mix of toasted lentils, sesame, chiles, and spices in South Asian cuisine that she grew up dipping idli (steamed rice and lentil cakes) into. And the name stems from Fun Dip, the candy that can only be defined as sugar sticks dipped in flavored powdered sugar, which she also loved and had to sneak past her parents.1
“I love dipping stuff into dry powders,” Sohla said. “It brings me a lot of nostalgia, both for the Fun Dip angle and the idli podi angle, and I’m glad that it’s something that a lot of people seem to relate to.”
Sohla wanted to make sure the flavors were widely appealing to everyone in the car—kids and adults, adventurous palates and less so—so she made the ranch powder not-too-spicy and heavy on the salty, savory nutritional yeast, with flickers of dried dill and garlic, pistachios and fruity Aleppo-style pepper.
But you can also take Sohla’s concept—and your own cravings—and run with them. In the video here, for example, Sohla invents a satay-inspired Fun Dip, with charred cashews, dried shrimp, coconut sugar, and extra-spicy ground chiles (and I get very hungry).
Whatever ingredients you’re using, all of it blitzes in moments in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, or anything else that grinds to the texture of coarse sand: food processor, blender, cocktail muddler—you just want it to be fine enough to stick to the veggies, without grinding so far that it becomes clumpy.
Bang around any cut-up vegetable in a mix like this and you’ll never get bored. It taught my one-year-old how to dip, and then got her eating a lot of raw beets and cauliflower, among other things. It has ushered so many more vegetables to our weekday lunches at home, when cooking them or even salad-ing them seems too consuming.
No matter how busy the day, there is always time to cut up a carrot, and, with Sohla’s Fun Dip, I’m always happier I did.
Ranch Fun Dip From Sohla El-Waylly
Makes 1/2 cup
• 1/4 cup raw, shelled pistachios
• 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
• 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal or 1¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt
• 2 teaspoons Aleppo-style pepper
• 2 teaspoons dried dill
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1 teaspoon onion powder
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 For more on the packaging history of Fun Dip, please see this incredibly detailed accounting on CollectingCandy.com. (Fun fact: Both the sticks and the sugar have been sold separately—but, clearly, they’re at their best together.)
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