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Lifestyle : Taste of India 2011
1HERSA1 E018 Barcelona Zaragoza Pamplona San Sebastián Bilbao Santillana del Mar Santiago de Compostela Viana do Castelo Braga Oporto PORTUGAL SPAIN Coimbra Obidos Lisbon Evora Seville Granada Córdoba Toledo Madrid Guimarães Vila Real Pinhão 18 Tuesday, October 25, 2011 smh.com.au good living taste of india special report Essential ingredients Carrying on the career . . . Nathan Kumar’s family have been food retailers for generations. Photo: Tamara Dean The owners of specialist shops pass on a wealth of valuable knowledge, writes Carli Ratcliff. N athan and Nira Kumar set up Aum Spice Centre in Croydon 22 years ago. For a period they also ran an Indian restaurant in the same street, with Nira in the kitchen and Nathan on the floor. ‘‘We had no social life when we had the restaurant,’’ Nathan says. ‘‘With the shop we have a life – unlike a restaurant we can have just one or two of us here, not the whole family plus employees.’’ Nira still cooks. Her chapati, fine rotis and sweet gulab jamun are popular with customers, and pulses are a bestseller, including green, brown and red lentils, and kidney, moong and black-eyed beans. ‘‘My father was a food retailer and he learnt the trade from my grandfather,’’ Nathan says. ‘‘When I was a child, I helped my father in the store, then I went into the jewellery business.’’ He took over the family food business in Sri Lanka before moving to Australia in 1987 and opening the shop in 1989. It has always catered for clientele familiar with Indian food and ingredients, however the customer base has diversified in recent years. ‘‘Once, we sold predominantly Indian groceries to Indian customers,’’ Nathan says. ‘‘Most of our customers are now Anglo, they are more adventurous in their cooking than they once were.’’ And they aren’t afraid to ask for advice. ‘‘Most want to know how to make a good dhal or a vindaloo,’’ he says. ‘‘We are happy to give them a recipe or tips.’’ Wholesaler and retailer Ben Kumar of Tara’s International Trading in Liverpool is also happy to give recipe advice to his customers, many of whom are not of Indian background. ‘‘A lot of people have no idea what to do with lentils, so we guide them,’’ he says. Kumar sells dried green lentils and chickpeas grown in Queensland, for dhal, as well as spices, rice, pickles and chutneys in bulk. Spices are available whole, crushed or ground. He stocks 14 types of rice, including basmati and Australian long grain, in bags ranging from one to 25 kilograms. Kamal and Sharine Chandra own Indian Bazaar in Parramatta. They swapped successful careers in IT and accounting respectively, to open their shop in 1999. ‘‘This is much less stressful,’’ Kamal says. The couple sell more than a tonne of chana (chickpea) dhal each month. They also do a swift trade in ready-to-eat meals, popular with office workers and students. ‘‘They like to be able to heat and eat in two minutes,’’ Kamal says. But most of his customers are accomplished home cooks. ‘‘ We sell everything loose, in bulk,’’ he says. ‘‘Customers can buy as little or as much as they need. That way people can try a range of ingredients and come in more regularly.’’ SPICE SUPPLIES Aum Spice Centre 19 The Strand, Croydon, 9744 1177. Tara’s International Trading 214 Northumberland Street, Liverpool, 9822 7555. India Bazaar 100 Wigram Street, Harris Park, 9635 8935. Taj 11 Harbord Street, Granville, 9633 2118.
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