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Guelph grocer is ringing in the Nepalese New Year with renewed hope

Suraj Chhetri and his family are building a new business and a new life after spending 20 years in a refugee camp.

It is the beginning of the year 2074 on the Nepalese calendar and Guelph grocer Suraj Chhetri it is not only celebrating a happy new year but the start of a hopeful new future.

“I have seen the dark side of life,” said Chhetri. “Now, what I believe is that I can’t have a life worse than what I already had.”

Chhetri, his wife Nisha Chhetri-Gyawali and their eight-year-old son Aaryan recently moved to Guelph and opened a new store downtown.

Himalayan Grocers, located at the site of the former Vinh Phong Asian Foodmart on Macdonell Street, caters to the Nepalese community but Chhetri is seeking to broaden his customer base.

“I want to continue with the existing products because this store has been here for the last many years,” Chhetri said. “Our idea is to develop this into a specialty grocery store where you can find anything you can’t find outside.”

Apart from offering a growing selection of Asian and international food they carry a pantheon of Hindu and Buddhist icons, religious items and other Nepalese products.

“There are certain products that the people of our community need on a regular basis,” said Chhetri. “When there is a death in the family or a marriage or any other religious rituals, we need some specific products that otherwise we can’t find in the supermarket.”

Chhetri knows all too well what it is like to be denied religious and cultural rights and to go without food and freedom. He was born in Bhutan in 1978, the second oldest of four siblings. His family moved to Bhutan from Nepal in the early 1900s at the invitation of the first king of Bhutan Ugyen Wangchuck to help with the modernization of the country. They prospered for generations until the late 1980s when the fourth king in the dynasty Jigme Singye Wangchuck introduced cultural reforms.

“He brought in a policy – one nation, one people – which meant we had to follow everything he does, the clothes he wears, the religion he follows, the food he eats,” said Chhetri. “We have our own food and our own religion. We protested and as a consequence we had to leave the country.”

Their first stop as refugees was India.

“The Indian government said you speak Nepalese you better go to Nepal,” Chhetri said. “They put us in a truck and sent us to Nepal but Nepal is a poor country and the government couldn’t assimilate us.”

The United Nations built seven camps in Nepal to house the refugees.

“Life was not easy in the camp,” said Chhetri. “I was 11 in 1989 when we left Bhutan and we lived as refugees until 2010 when we came to Canada.”

They settled in Quebec where Chhetri worked as a translator and an agent for Desjardin Insurance.

He and his older brother opened a Himalayan Grocers store in Quebec but were looking for a location in Ontario.

“People from my community have moved here and found a good job,” he said. “We are already in love with this city. This is a good community with very good people.”

They took over the store at the beginning of January and in March were among three local businesses nominated for the Immigrant Entrepreneurship Success Award by The Guelph-Wellington Local Immigration Partnership.

“Every day is a new day for me,” said Chhetri. “Moving forward I only see good things happening to me from now on.”

Apr 17, 2017 10:00 AM By: Troy Bridgeman

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Benefits of using termeric

Golden milk—also known as Haldi (turmeric) milk—is a traditional Indian drink that has recently been gaining popularity in Western cultures, thanks to the increasing visibility of both yoga and Ayurveda.

This healthy, bright yellow beverage is traditionally made by warming up cow’s milk with turmeric and other spices like cinnamon and ginger. Alternatively, as a vegan variant, you can also make golden milk with a plant-based alternative, like nut milk or soy milk.

Turmeric from Ayurveda point of view

Turmeric, or Curcuma longa-Rhizoma, is also known as Haridrā, which literally means yellow. It is a perennial plant grown throughout Asia and has a signature bright yellow color. Turmeric’s taste (rasa) is pungent, bitter, and astringent. Its energy (virya) is heating, and it has dry and light qualities (gunas).⁠ Thus, turmeric contains balancing qualities for all three doshas: its heat balances Vata and Kapha, its dryness and its pungent and bitter tastes balance Kapha, and its bitter taste also balances Pitta, making it tri-doshic!

The health benefits of Golden Milk

According to Medical News Today, this much-talked-about wonder herb, in the form of golden milk, has many scientifically-backed health benefits—it’s loaded with antioxidants, and may reduce inflammation and joint pain, improve memory and brain function, protect against heart disease, lower blood sugar levels, help digestion, improve bone health, and possibly reduce the risk of cancer. Lately, turmeric has come to the forefront of therapeutics for the role it plays in benefitting both general mental health and mood—especially anxiety. ⁠

Anxiety, or any other kind of stress, can tax agni (the digestive fire). If agni is weak, we are sure to suffer all kinds of imbalances. Fortunately, turmeric kindles the digestive fire. This action is known as “agni dīpana.”

Maintaining good digestive health is a major step in addressing anxiety or any other health concern. Turmeric’s intrinsic nature enables it to elevate mood and increase cognitive function.

How to get the most out of Golden Milk

Studies say that it's difficult for our bloodstream to absorb turmeric and completely reap the benefits. That's because most of the curcumin in turmeric gets metabolized before our bodies can absorb it. There are, however, two primary ingredients that can increase turmeric's absorption and bioavailability, both of which are included in this recipe.

1) Black pepper: Piperine, an alkaloid present in black pepper, enhances the bioavailability of turmeric. Studies have shown that combining just a little black pepper with turmeric can boost blood levels of curcumin by up to 2,000%!

2) Fat:Turmeric or curcumin is fat-soluble (in contrast, it has low solubility in water), so adding a healthy source of fat (such as coconut oil or ghee) allows the curcumin to be directly absorbed into the bloodstream.

Try this simple vegan Golden Milk recipe next time you want a warm hug in a mug. ⁠

Regular Golden Milk

  • 1 1/2 cups of whole milk, preferably organic,⁠ without added preservatives
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric⁠
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick (or 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon)⁠
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom, or 2-3 cardamom pods, crushed (optional)
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper⁠
  • 1 tbsp sweetener of choice (i.e. maple syrup, honey or jaggery)⁠

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Fusion Cooking

Although the term “fusion cuisine” is relatively new, the concept has been around for many centuries. In fact, according to Natasha Geiling at, fusion cuisine, defined as “the blending of culinary worlds to create new, hybrid dishes,” has been around for centuries, ever since the beginning of trade. As cultures began to overlap, it was only natural that new dishes were created, when people shared and combined cooking styles and ingredients to create new concepts and flavor profiles. A classic example of early fusion is Italian spaghetti, which would have never existed without Italy’s exposure to the Chinese noodle.
Modern fusion cuisine is usually traced back to the 1980s, when chefs like Roy Yamaguchi and Wolfgang Puck began to intentionally combine flavors from different cultures. Puck combined his affinity for Asian flavors with his European upbringing and training to create innovative dishes that quickly gained popularity in California and across the United States. Soon after, phrases such as Pan-Asian, Cal-Asian and Pan-Pacific emerged in an attempt to define these new food styles. Wolfgang Puck noted in an interview with Perry Garfinkle of The Wall Street Journal, that he doesn’t think these new concepts need to be defined, saying “As soon as it’s named, it becomes a ‘trend’ that everyone can jump on and imitate, rather than innovate. It’s not as simple as adding ginger and soy sauce, and voilà, Asian fusion.”

Things You Need to Keep in Your Pantry:

Fish sauce — Adds a soft, savory character that's similar to how Italians use anchovies.

Miso paste — Creates a richness and has a little sweetness. The umami characteristics make foods taste even more fabulous then they would already. You can use it anything from porridge to salad dressing to meats to mashed potatoes.

Soy sauce — It's like a liquid stock cube, great for stews, braises, and dressing. Most people just fry Portobello mushrooms in butter, but adding cream and soy sauce takes it to another level.

Fresh Ginger — The most delicious thing in the universe. Wonderful with seafood.

Lemongrass — The outside builds flavor in stocks and broths, and the inside is lovely chopped through a chicken pecan salad or pounded into a dressing and poured over fish.

Spices — I love working with star anise, fennel, and green cardamom. Chinese dried licorice root slowly braised with meats gives a warming flavor. Darker meats can cope with darker spices like cloves and nutmeg. For the best flavor, buy in small quantities and grind spices yourself.

And of course…

You can go a long way with a few nice oils, fresh citrus fruit, and chilies. I make a pureed mango, ginger, chili, coriander dressing for fish based on a Thai recipe with lots of lime and olive oil. You wouldn't find olive oil in Thailand, but it adds a richness that sunflower oil would not.