Market Meal: Take-away Thai and Indian dishes new addition to local farmers markets
Owner and operator left her day job to pursue cooking
Simple foods, with big flavours — that’s what you’ll find at Mini Kitchen, new this season at the Southwest Edmonton Farmers Market.
Mini Kitchen, run by Damini Mohan, specializes in Indian food. The business came about slowly, over a number of years, simply because Mohan grew up, left home, and could no longer get the same kind of wonderful Indian food that her mother, Renu Mohan, prepared for the family.
Born and raised in India for 17 years, Mohan always liked to cook.
“But I used to cook everything but Indian. I could eat Indian food anytime, so I took it for granted,” recalls Damini, 27, whose family moved to Edmonton in 2003.
A few years ago, she had an opportunity to live in Washington, D.C., to complete an internship, and simply couldn’t find an Indian restaurant that could match what she was able to get at home. So Damini started experimenting. Over time, she built up a considerable repertoire and last year, she decided to give up her day job and pursue cooking full-time.
In November 2012, Mini Kitchen began selling a line of Indian food products at the city market at city hall, and in January she expanded to the Salisbury Greenhouse market. Now she’s at seven local markets, including the new French Quarter market at Cite francophone on Sundays, and of course, the Southwest Edmonton Farmers Market.
Mini Kitchen products are frozen (as are many readymade meals at farmers’ markets, due to health regulations). They sell in 500-millilitre containers for $11 each, or three for $30.
When I cooked the dishes at home, I prepared basmati rice as an accompaniment. But you can also purchase naan bread from Mini Kitchen, made using Renu’s recipe.
Each of the dishes was delicious. The butter chicken, made with a combination of chicken breasts and chicken thighs, was laced with cream, but also generous amounts of yogurt to cut down on calories and fat.
The pomegranate chickpeas were firm. Damini uses dried chickpeas and soaks them overnight to avoid the mushy quality associated with canned chickpeas. Cumin and coriander add kick. A third dish, spinach studded with nuggets of fried paneer, also surprised me with its combination of flavour and nutrition. Mini Kitchen also sells a line of Thai products, including a red Thai coconut curry.
Damini now has her mother working in the business, and they are planning to open a small café together with some other market vendors as soon as they can find a suitable location in the central part of Edmonton. For details on the business, go Mini Kitchen’s Facebook page.
Damini Mohan, from Mini Kitchen, makes Thai and Indian food that you can take home — all frozen for safety — from the Southwest Edmonton Farmers Market.