Find­ing Jassi Da Dhaba

Two friends team up to share their love of Punjabi cui­sine via a cater­ing ven­ture with home at its heart.

The Coast - - COVER STORY - BY IS­ABEL RUITENBEEK

the ACICC cafe this past Satur­day. They see the event as one step to­wards a restau­rant: An op­por­tu­nity to reach more peo­ple and get feed­back on their cook­ing.

Chole is a thick, rich chick­pea curry, and bha­ture is a deep fried, spiced bread. The meal is served with onions, a mint co­rian­der chut­ney and mango pickle and has sig­nif­i­cance to both women.

“That’s the first thing I was look­ing for when I came here,” Kaur re­calls.

“When I was in In­dia I used to eat chole bha­ture ev­ery­day in my lunchtime,” Chaud­hary adds. She says she’s found the dish in Hal­i­fax, but it’s not what she re­mem­bers from home.

At the event, al­most every one of the 15 or so ta­bles is oc­cu­pied, and there’s a 30-minute wait for food. Though there’s no short­age of chole be­hind the counter where Kaur’s sis­ter scoops it up, it’s the bhat­uras that can’t keep up with de­mand. Every few min­utes San­jeet Singh, Kaur’s hus­band, leaves the cash reg­is­ter to go to the kitchen, emerg­ing with a fresh plate­ful of the breads.

Both Kaur and Chaud­hary came to Hal­i­fax be­cause their hus­bands were here, and Kaur is quick to give credit where credit is due. “They are the first rea­son why we are do­ing this,” she says, adding that their hus­bands en­cour­aged them to fol­low their pas­sion, and—as nei­ther woman has her driver’s li­cence yet— take them to buy gro­ceries.

De­spite meet­ing only two years ago, Kaur and Chaud­hary have be­come like fam­ily to each other, they say. They cook and gro­cery shop to­gether for their busi­ness, but they’ve also got­ten to know Nova Sco­tia as a pair. “She calls me ‘travel man­ager,’” Chaud­hary says, laugh­ing. Last sum­mer, the two were hardly ever home. They ex­plored al­most every week­end, from Cape Bre­ton to Mon­treal.

The name of their busi­ness—“dhaba”—is fa­mous in In­dia. Dhabas are road­side restau­rants, like In­dia’s Tim Hor­tons, Kaur says. “If you hear dhaba any­where in In­dia it means that you will find a taste just like home.”

IAN SELIG

Swati Chaud­hary and Jasvin­der Kaur are work­ing to­wards open­ing a restau­rant.

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