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