At Orangeville’s Coriander Kitchen authentic is the key

June 28, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Most evenings, on the way to the theatre in Orangeville, upon the air around the neighbourhood immediately next to the Town Hall and Theatre Orangeville’s main stage, float the very fragrant and delicious smells of an Indian meal, succulent curry or tandoori, sensual and inviting.

This is the hallmark, the promise of authenticity of Coriander Kitchen, the Indian restaurant next to the theatre. 

Co-owner, Suroj Bhandari sat down with the Citizen to talk about how they have made a success of the restaurant, now in its eighth year in Orangeville and in the same location. 

His partner, Sahid, and he decided in 2017, to open another, an additional, restaurant in Collingwood, in which Sahid cooks and runs. 

“There was no Indian restaurant there,” he explained. “Right now, we run it just as a take-out with no seating. It’s doing well. We are thinking of getting sit-down but it is difficult to find the staff. It must be a cook who knows the authentic recipes, who knows all the spices.”

This is at the crux of it all at Coriander Kitchen – the authenticity of the cooking, knowing all the spices and the essence of the kind of cooking one would truly find in India itself. There is a safety factor in this – that the food will be the best, the most honest. Everything is made in – house.

A small establishment of about 50 seats, the restaurant’s layout is simple: long and narrow, tables and comfortable chairs line either side and lead to the open kitchen, running along the east wall. While there is an additional kitchen in the rear, where sauces and the staples are made, all the meals are prepared in full view in the open kitchen. The three-foot-wide, clay tandoor is there too, for cooking the different meats, most particularly chicken, which have been marinaded overnight in yogurt and the rich red tandoori spices, and the naans, the flatbread of India.

Mr. Bhandari came to Canada in 2003, from Kathmandu in Nepal, where he cooked with his mother as a child and attended university to study economics. 

“Back home,” he told us, “we cooked for ourselves. In Bangor, in India, we used to cook ourselves. I was studying business at university there.”

Once he was in Canada, living in Toronto, a friend who was working in the Indian restaurant in Fergus told him to come to work there. It was there where Suroj and Sahid met.

They agreed early on, on a plan: “We used to work together in Fergus and we always had a plan – ‘Okay, we’ll have to do something for ourselves.’ We learned everything from Fergus.”

Opening a restaurant, financing it themselves, was a mighty leap of faith. “In the beginning, it was hard. When we first opened, from day one, the people who were coming, are still coming and I still see their faces.” He smiled at the fact of such long term customers. “They would call from Brampton and pick up their food from here and then go on to their cottages or other places.”

Coriander Kitchen’s menu is generous. The beginning is the starters and they cover choices from spicy mulligatawny soup to salad to vegetable, fish and chicken items, meant to excite a person’s appetite for more.

The tandoori is there in a number of ways to serve it: as chicken, it can be half or whole; adding lamb and even fish, tandoori can come as pieces poached in savoury sauces or on skewers.

The main dishes are the meat, chicken and fish served in a variety of sauces, spicy hot or not, according to taste, all with rice. Then, there is a separate list of vegetable dishes. Keeping in mind that Hindus are vegetarians, diners in Orangeville who don’t want to eat meat will do well here.

It speaks well for the place that the staff love working there. One such lady, from Newfoundland, Joey, raved at Mr. Bhandari’s fairness and generosity. There are two other cooks beside Mr. Bhandari, and his wife, Laxmi, comes in to help as well. Her mother watches their children

“Seventy percent of our orders are for take away,” Mr. Bhandari informed us. “And thirty percent sit here and eat. The sitting space is small, so, it is easy to control.”

Ambition may be a necessary part of business thinking and he has ideas: “The future in my mind is nice seating. How to arrange this a little differently. We like this location and we have been here all this time. People like to watch the cooking and they like to come here before going to the theatre.

“They like to come here any time…”

Coriander Kitchen is located at 85 Broadway, at the end of the tiny strip mall next door to the Theatre Orangeville. Their website,, has a really nice presentation of their menu.

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