If all you know about Indian food is curry chicken, the staff at Bombay Spices has some delicious surprises for you.
The new Indian grocery store opened at the beginning of September at 428 Westmount Ave. in New Sudbury.
Each of India's 28 states and its diverse religious and cultural groups have their own distinct foods and recipes. And until now, most of the necessary staples and ingredients, as well as frozen prepared foods, dry mixes, and dairy items, were not available in Sudbury.
Jimmy Rathod, one of the four partners who owns the franchise, says Indian-Canadian families have been driving to Toronto to purchase groceries.
The civil engineer and his family have lived in Sudbury for three years. He and his partners, Tejas Patel, Brijesh Patel and Neeraj Aghera, saw a need for an Indian grocery store to serve the city's growing number of Indian-Canadian families. They also hope to serve customers in North Bay and Timmins.
Products imported from India are sourced through suppliers in the Greater Toronto Area.
Rathod points to the numerous varieties and brands of flour, sugar, rice, beans, spices and sweets. Shoppers will also find fresh produce such as coconuts, chillies, onions and carrots.
The grocery store has quickly become popular with international students attending Cambrian College and Laurentian University who want a taste of home such as snacks, cold drinks and chocolate bars. Ready-to-eat samosas (a triangle pastry with a savoury filling), and dabeli (an Indian burger with a potato filling) are available for takeout.
Rathod points to a bin of Maggi noodle packages. These curry-flavoured instant noodles are a Swiss invention, but according to Fortune magazine, Indians consume about 400,000 tons of it annually.
Maggi noodles are junk food, although most of the country's colourful, flavourful and aromatic dishes contain ingredients such as ginger, garlic and turmeric that are good for the digestive and immune systems. A staple of much Indian cooking is ghee, a clarified butter, that some people believe is healthier than butter because milk solids have been removed.
Bombay Spices is not just for Indian-Canadians. Anyone who loves Indian food will enjoy shopping here — product labelling is in English. Vegetarians looking for healthy alternatives will enjoy the selection of beans and legumes, which are low in fat, and vegetarian frozen foods made with paneer, fresh soft cheese similar to cottage cheese.
For people who are not on a diet, there is an entire aisle of cookies, cakes and treats. Many are made with ingredients such as almonds, pistachios, coconut, cardamom, nutmeg, and cloves.
There is also an aisle of sauces, chutneys, condiments and cooking oils.
Indian food is considered one of the most popular cuisines in the world after Italian and Chinese.
Bombay Spices also stocks beauty and health products made with natural ingredients and favoured by Indian-Canadians.
The owners had hoped to open in March but delayed their plans because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Then prior to the September opening, some stock arrived later than expected because of the longshore workers' 12-day strike the port of Montreal last month.
Rathod, who is originally from Nagpur, a city of 2.5 million in the middle of India, is proud of the store and says new customers are impressed by the selection of products.
"We will customize our inventory to meet our customers' needs" as we get to know demand.
Bombay Spices is the only Indian grocery store north of Barrie. The store has a website, bombayspices.ca, and there are plans to offer delivery in the future.
There are Bombay Spices franchise grocery stores in Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Brandon, London, Hamilton and Halifax.