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Coriander Kitchen making it easy for everyone to love Indian food

May 12, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Sahid Rahman and his partner, Suroj Bhandari chose to open their Indian restaurant in Orangeville for many excellent reasons. First of these was to introduce Indian food to non-Indians.

Said Mr. Rahman in a telephone interview with the Citizen, “We thought Orangeville people can try something different. Since the day we opened we are so busy.”

That success is at least partly due to the wonderful aromas from the restaurant wafting from its central location at 85 Broadway, right across Theatre Orangeville and travelling to tingle the olfactory senses of all who park behind the theatre.

“I still have the same customers who came in the first days we opened and that’s the most important thing for a business.”

Messrs Rahman and Bhandari will celebrate Coriander Kitchen’s 10 year anniversary on August 8.

All along staffing has been a challenge for this is very specialized cooking and as he said, “My partner and I, we are both long experienced but we need extra staff – a special chef that knows the spices.”

He told us that 85% of his customers are British from the relationship between Indians and the British but it is important to keep the spice level down so that “people can try it and then they like it very much.”

Coming from Bangladesh, Mr. Rahman arrived to Canada as a sponsored chef. He was cooking back home and began learning from his family.

He explained, “My mom didn’t have a sister with us. So, me and my brother had to help my mom and that got me interested in cooking. My mom sometimes comes to Canada.” He was married in Canada and his family is here, with a daughter almost 10 years old and a younger son. “When we opened the restaurant,” he said, “my wife was eight months pregnant.”

The ambition right now for the restaurant is to find the right staff and adjust the prices for the first time in six years to cover increased costs. They have to keep the doors open. “So many people they say, ‘We haven’t tried this food but when you come here, it smells so good we have to try something,’” he related, adding, “For the future when things calm down, people can come back to dine inside.”

The inside of the Coriander Kitchen is a simple affair. The space is long and narrow, placing the tables along each wall but with room enough for four settings each. Charming art from India deck the walls; they can each be studied for a while, so much is going on. 

The open kitchen is where all the meals are cooked and assembled. It is always interesting to watch three chefs at work. A very tidy menu lists and explains the food on offer, each a delight with flavours quite removed from our regular fare. Meat and fish are consumed as small pieces, marinated and spiced overnight and grilled or coming in gorgeous sauces or baked in a traditional tandoori clay oven they have on site. Fresh herbs, garlic, ginger are the beginnings of many dishes.

Everything is made fresh as it is ordered and a person can count on waiting 20 minutes, time to have an Indian tea and perhaps a few appetizers – samosa or pakora. With a solid base of vegetarians in Indian, like minded people will find much to entice them without meat on the menu. 

“Our food is traditional,” we were assured by Mr. Rahman. “Most of my recipes are a little different. I focus on the people. I chose the place where the most British people are. They eat it twice a week. Many of my dishes are milder. If somebody asks, we can make it as spicy as they want, the heat level of chicken curry can vary.”

Having come from Bangladesh to Fergus to work in an Indian restaurant there 17 years ago, Mr. Rahman was keen to open his own establishment. After enough time of looking and saving, even for that first restaurant, it was he and Suroj Bhandari as partners. They had met in the Fergus restaurant.

Their first venture was in Guelph in 2008 until the end of 2009, when there was a recession. After that he was looking for a small community and found the perfect place in Orangeville.

He said, “The community in Orangeville is exceptional. I didn’t need to advertise after the feature in the [Orangeville] Citizen [June 2019]. People came and they came back. They were very supportive during Covid; the people are excellent and we are really thankful to people here.”

Why a person should come to the Coriander Kitchen: for the flavours they have you should try. Don’t be scared of the spice, he urged. It can be very mild and very delicious. His wife used to be his customer in Guelph.

“She loved my dansak,” he admitted, “She still is my one kind-of theatre if I do something a little different. She is the first one I ask her, ‘How do you like it?’”

What he loves here: “The people I’ve met here are all nice and now we’re seeing how is multi-cultural society is growing.

“That is the great thing about here and I’m proud to be part of that.”

Coriander Kitchen is at 85 Broadway immediately east of Theatre Orangeville. Telephone 519-940-9410 for take out and all the details are at www.coriander-kitchen.com



         


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