- ALEXA CUDE
- (L-r): Salmath, Faizal and Nadia Junus, their shop and a popular sweet, jalebi.
Dhaba Sweets & Spice Shoppe
8 Oland Crescent
Dhaba Sweets & Spice Shoppe will launch a new online service in September to cater to communities outside of Halifax who do not have access to traditional Indian sweets or spices.
"Lately, we are seeing people come from Cape Breton or Lunenberg on the weekends buying six bags of rice and having huge bills, so I thought going online can help," says Faizal Junus, co-owner of the shop and its sibling restaurant.
For starters, Dhaba's online section will only have eight different sweets available for purchase, where they'll be delivered to stations in various parts of the province via Maritime Bus. The sweets are handmade, the spices are brought in from Toronto. "It is only meant for people who can't come here," Faizal adds.
Six years ago, he and his wife, Salmath Junus, opened Dhaba Casual Fine Dining, an Indian restaurant that also offered catering to birthday parties, weddings and small gatherings.
"It has always been a dream, but I waited until my children were a little older and that's why it took so long and now it is my second home," says Salmath, the co-owner and chef, cooking authentic Indian food as taught by her mother.
Faizal says "the response has been phenomenal because there is a void in the market" and that's one of the reasons why they expanded the business and opened the sweets and spice shop in 2016.
"It complements the restaurant because what we serve as snack items or sweets in the restaurant can be sold fresh to people and in large amounts at the shop," he says. "When you go to Toronto, you notice that some Indian restaurants cater to only one community that is only South Indian or Punjabi, but we cater to everybody and that's also why the business is expanding thanks to the word of mouth coming from people of all backgrounds."
The shop is in the same plaza as the restaurant, just two doors away, and so far has been accommodating many different communities in the city by bringing in halal meats, tropical fish, Indian/Pakistani spices and different types of rice. "We promote healthy choices and we take in consideration any special or holy event and adjust our food to it," says Faizal.
Nadia Junus, who helped set up the online store, believes that the diversity of choice might be overwhelming to people who are not familiar with Indian or South Asian food. This is why sometimes cooking demonstrations—advertised on the shop's Facebook page—take place at Dhaba.
"In our opening week, we did an event where we did rice tasting and explained the different types of rice," says Nadia, who assists her father in running the business. "We showed what you're able to do with a shop like this because a lot of people don't know.
"We are super open to what people want to know or learn about our food and items," says Nadia. "We are also open about sharing our cooking skills and expertise and if you can't make any of these dishes, we have them here for you."
In the future, the Junus family is hoping to open a second location and spread its passion for authentic Indian food to more people.