When Lomesh Patel moved to Saskatoon in 2010, he was struck by how difficult it was to find ingredients essential to cooking food from his native India.
“I can’t find what I need from Saskatchewan,” said Patel, who grew up in Gujarat, India before moving to Canada. “So I had to order all the way from India or Toronto.”
Earlier this month, Patel opened Bombay Spices on 51st Street East. He said he was persuaded to get into the grocery business by his friend Hetal Patel, who owns an identically-named store in Regina.
“(The) East Indian community is growing more and more in Saskatoon right now, and there is not that much competition,” he said, citing the ongoing expansion of the Shri Lakshmi Narayan Hindu Temple as evidence.
“So we talked: ‘Let’s move here and we can open one more branch in Saskatoon.”
Bombay Spices was originally created to provide Regina’s Indian community with ingredients that are difficult if not impossible to source locally. Patel said he hopes the Saskatoon branch can do the same.
Although Bombay Spices does not sell meat, it carries a wide range of spices, curries and beans, as well as the flours needed to bake chapati – traditional unleavened bread.
Bombay Spices also stocks vegetables used in Indian cooking, which are ordered in from Toronto.
The store gives Saskatoon’s Indian community an opportunity to have a taste of home, he said. “If you want to make butter chicken, we have curries for that.”
While the store was created to cater to the Indian community, Patel said interest has been strong across the board.
Members of Saskatoon’s Middle Eastern and Filipino communities have started shopping at Bombay Spices, he said.
Well aware that the Regina branch of Bombay Spices has been “doing very well” for four years, Patel said he thinks “tremendous” business so far means a similar story in Saskatoon.
ALEX MACPHERSON, SASKATOON STARPHOENIX
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