A Desi Store Is a Home For Immigrants

Desi Store Is a Home For Immigrants

When one walks into a desi store (Indian grocery), it feels like walking into someone’s home. Kind smiles and enthusiastic help greet shoppers as they walk in the door, and a warm rapport is established with each new customer. The shelves are filled with the familiar smells of cumin seeds, fennel seed, black peppercorns and other spices. The store carries a variety of non-perishable Indian foods, such as pre-made parathas, naans and other flatbreads. The freezer section is full of halal meats and other frozen Indian foods, and the fresh produce aisle has a large selection of colorful vegetables from India and Asia.

For the immigrant community, desi store are a way to keep culture in a foreign land. These ethnic food hubs provide an essential service to their consumers by actualizing their very identities. They are a link to the home and to the past, and they must be sustained as such.

Desi stores serve many purposes, but their most important role is to give people the ingredients they need to cook authentically. They carry a lot of items that are not available in standard American supermarkets, including a wide array of herbs and spices that make up the foundation of any good dish. They also stock a number of utensils that are specific to Indian cooking, making it easy for anyone to create dishes that are true to their heritage.

A Desi Store Is a Home For Immigrants

The South Bay has no shortage of these ethnic grocery stores. From Kamal Spice House in San Jose to the recently-opened Kamal at the Indian Mall in Santa Clara, these places offer a glimpse of an old world. They are a rare type of business, one that has to be maintained as a form of cultural preservation.

As an example, a recent Washington Post column by Gene Weingarten called into question the integrity of Indian cuisine and implied that it is a “food you can’t make me eat.” This type of ignorance is uncalled for and can be corrected in these spaces that serve as cultural touchstones for South Asians.

Austin is set to get another Desi store when Desi Brothers opens a location in Round Rock Crossing this fall. The retailer has signed a 48,000-square foot lease, which is double that of the typical Sprouts Farmers Market store and half the size of an H-E-B. Britt Morrison and Nick Naumann with Weitzman brokered the deal on behalf of the shopping center, while Michael DuBois with Dallas-based Pride Commercial Properties represented Desi.

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