Kootenay Tamil Kitchen
It was Friday night date night. With crampons on our Blundstones, my partner and I trudged through the ice and snow to Kootenay Tamil Kitchen at the corner of Nelson Ave. and Andersen St. Ciraj welcomed us into the restaurant as though into his own home and I appreciated the chance to get to know this local entrepreneur a little bit better. You can get know him, too! Kootenay Tamil Kitchen is now available at the Kootenay Co-op in our True Local Grab and Go cooler. Read on for my interview with Ciraj, and come by the Kootenay Co-op on January 22 starting at 2:30 to meet Ciraj and try his delicious South Indian food!
Read on to learn more about this delicious Nelson restaurant and its owners, Ciraj and Martina.
So Ciraj, what do you make?
We make South Indian food in home-cooked style from our family recipes.
How do you describe your operation?
We are a small family-owned restaurant; myself & my wife, Martina, run this operation. We strive to provide healthy & authentic South Indian cooking to the Kootenay community.
How long have you been in business?
I am cooking for more than 18 years, working 2 years in India at the Sheraton group of hotels, and then I joined the US carnival cruise ship, where I worked for 9 years as a chef, with 138 cooks working under me to help make food for 6400 guests… Then we came to Canada, and I was here for 5 years as a chef before we opened our own business just 8 months ago!
Still so fresh! What motivated you to open your own business?
We are living in Nelson for 5 years now and we missed our South Indian food for all these 5 years as there is no South Indian restaurant in the Kootenay region… and since Nelson is a foodie town where you can find so many different cultures, we thought to bring some home-style meals to our Kootenay community. Nelsonites really love to eat vegetarian and healthy food which is the essence of South Indian cuisine.
And what are some of your greatest joys?
We believe one of the greatest joys in life is just cooking for family. As it is our family’s recipes, we really don’t have any recipe book to look at and cook from; it just comes out from our hearts as love as we cook for our family people and we always treat our customers as family, not just customers.
We also have a lot of customers who have been to South India and are looking for South Indian food in Nelson, so it gives us joy to be able to provide that.
What are some of your greatest challenges?
There are now 4 Indian restaurants in this small town, which is a big challenge, but as we are the only one with South Indian cuisine, it sets us apart from the others.
Another challenge is the spices, of which we use more than any other cuisine in India. And we use only whole spices and we grind all the masala by ourselves …
Also, we are missing some of our favourite vegetables from South India.
I’m sure it’s hard to re-create some of your favourite family recipes without all the ingredients available here! What’s your vision for your business here in Nelson?
Be a family and serve only healthy food.
Why is local purchasing important to you?
Always support locals. Because of local farmers and processors, we are able to eat local food today. So as much as we can, we should help support local business… and get to know each other!
If you could deliver a message directly to Co-op members, what would it be?
“COME IN AS A CUSTOMER LEAVE AS A PART OF OUR FAMILY “