(Photos by Mohini Patel Glanz. Click for captions.)
Step aside Safeway! Family-owned ethnic grocery stores are popping up all over our region, stocking unique specialty foods from around the globe.
It feels good to shop at a small, family-owned grocery store. At a well-kept shop like Indian Sweets & Spices in nearby Shoreline, you can see the pride they take in their work. The food is fresh, shelves are carefully stocked, and they have a few specialties you won’t find anywhere else–even other Indian grocery stores.
That’s right Seattleites, great Indian groceries, without trekking over to the East Side. And unlike most of the stores over there, at Indian Sweets & Spices you will find a good selection of Indian beers, the best Indian sweets in the Seattle area, and delicious home-cooked meals to go, including meat curries. They do also have the usual Indian groceries–daal, rice, flours, tea, spices, some fresh vegetables, and an ample variety of housewares.
This is a family business, run by brothers Manmeet and Micky Singh. They took over a previous store in 2002 and have more than doubled its size.
They’ve also added a kitchen and catering business. The Singh brothers’ mother and their wives (who also happen to be sisters) do all the cooking. Everything is done from scratch, in batches big enough to feed about 30 people, and they sell out fast.
All the curries and sweets my husband and I have tried so far have been delicious, and the best part is they use no preservatives, and no food coloring. The food is healthy, perfectly spiced, and always fresh.
Since their food is so popular, I asked them, why not expand to a restaurant? Their answer is simple; they don’t want to compromise on quality.
“The energy that [my mother] has, you can taste that in her food,” says Micky Singh. “If it is forced, that will go away.”
In short, their mother, like many in my family, is a “soul cook.” She cooks so well because she loves to do it. We encounter this ethic often in Seattle, businesses staying independent, and small or small enough so they can do what they love.
The Singh family happened to come to Seattle from Delhi because the first immigrant in their family had come here in the seventies to attend university, but it seems they fit perfectly into our indie culture, doing what they love and doing it well.
Heres a rundown of five of my favorite products at Indian Sweets & Spices (photos above):
1) A changing selection of North Indian daals and curries, ready to take and eat. If you ever want to host an Indian dinner party and not slave in the kitchen for hours, I would suggest buying dishes here. You can also cater in advance and get the dishes of your choice.
2) Gulab jamun and fresh mawa barfis. We select a variety of sweets during every visit, but we always get the gulab jamun, which are consistently the best in the Northwest. Mawa is the milk solid obtained from slow-cooking whole milk, used for making Indian desserts. The Singhs make their sweets fresh weekly, from their own mawa.
3) Indian and African beers, including many we have found nowhere else. Most Indian stores in the area seem to be dry–I am not sure if this is just a religious thing or a license thing. Available by the bottle or the case.
4) Fresh samosas. After you’ve smelled all that amazing food during your shopping trip, you don’t have to settle with some packaged snack nor do you need to go home and cook right away. Go home with tasty samosas in hand, they are as good as everything else the Singhs make!
5) So much more! The gamut of halal meats, costume Indian jewelry, Indian utensils, and so many masalas, chutneys, snacks, and pickles. Many of these are available elsewhere in the area, but finding them all here, and combined with the above, keep us shopping here time and again.
Indian Sweets & Spices is located at 18002 15th Ave NE in Shoreline (206-367-4568).