Indo-Pak grocery store stocks South Asian staples
Pradeep Patel and Piyush Patel stand behind the counter of their new grocery store, Hari Om, at 2628 Dempster St. in Park Ridge. It is Park Ridge's very first store specializing in Indian and Pakistani foods. | Jennifer Johnson~Sun-Times Media
NAME: Hari Om Grocers
ADDRESS: 2628 Dempster St., Park Ridge
SPECIALTY: Indian-Pakistani groceries
HOURS: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Sat.; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays.
Updated: October 7, 2012 6:05AM
PARK RIDGE — For the average American the jars of chutney, boxes of round, sugary ladoos and packages of spicy garam masala lining the shelves inside Hari Om Grocers in Park Ridge may take on an exotic air.
But for the local South-Asian community they are staples found in just about every kitchen.
Hari Om, which opened in July at 2628 Dempster St. in the Landings shopping center, is Park Ridge’s very first Indian-Pakistani grocery. The name refers to a religious mantra recited by followers of the Hindu faith.
Co-owners Pradeep Patel and Piyush Patel stock the small grocery with ingredients that are common in cuisine originating from across South Asia, from the spices and sacks of basmati rice to the fresh ginger and 10-pound bags of flour.
“What we have is the regular day-to-day requirement,” Pradeep Patel said, explaining that while bread recipes, for example, might be made differently in South India than they are in parts of the north, the ingredients used remain the same.
That said, the store is, in large part, geared toward meeting the nutritional needs of the primarily vegetarian Gujarati community. Nearby neighborhoods in unincorporated Maine Township, Des Plaines and Niles have large populations of residents who identify themselves as ethnic Gujaratis.
“Basically whatever the Gujarati people use, we have,” Patel explained.
That includes eggless pastries and bread.
Shoppers with a sweet tooth, regardless of their ethnic background, can find the popular, syrupy dessert, gulab jamun, while those looking for healthy fruits and vegetables can find a stock of mangoes, eggplant, beans and squash.
Traditionally, South Asians make most of their meals from scratch, which takes both time and a number of ingredients. But a growing number of busy families in America have opened up a new market for frozen, but still traditional, foods that many Indo-Pak grocery stores are embracing.
“Because the young generation works they need ready-to-eat foods,” Patel said.
Some of the frozen foods available at Hari Om include samosas (a fried pastry, usually with vegetables and potato inside), chicken tikka masala (marinated pieces of chicken in a spicy, tomato-based sauce), and dum aloo (a spicy potato dish).
Hari Om also sells henna cones for decorative body art, hair oil, incense and small religious statues.
The owners hope to reach out to the large population of Indian and Pakistani residents who live in neighborhoods very near their store.
“We feel really good we are part of Park Ridge now,” Pradeep Patel said.