Currying Favor

Jagdeep’s in Clifton is a portal to India’s kaleidoscopic cuisine.

On a given day, shoppers at Jagdeep’s Indian Grocery might include a UC student seeking inexpensive microwave dinners, a mom from West Chester’s Sikh community, or a Delhi foodie armed with a recipe for chicken tikka masala.

For owners Ranjit and Jasvir Sangha, no question is too basic, no ingredient too obscure. Ranjit and Jasvir both hail from the Punjab region of northern India, which is renowned for its food. They are also veterans of the restaurant business. The couple (along with Ranjit’s family) ran several restaurants in the Northeast before moving to Cincinnati in 1999 and opening Amol India (which is right next door). Tired of the restaurant’s pace, they sold Amol to a family friend earlier this year to focus on the market. “People used to just eat in the restaurant,” Jasvir says. “Now they come in here to find the ingredients and learn to cook the dishes themselves.”

Jagdeep’s offers products for shoppers on a continuum from dilettantes to veteran cooks. Frozen and packaged meals are the gateway foods—prepared Indian favorites like kofta and curry (healthy and preservative-free, Jasvir notes). Devotees will find shelves full of garam masala, hot chilies, and paneer to create traditional dishes at home. Knowledgeable cooks can stock up on 10-pound sacks of rice, pickles and chutneys, and a wide range of whole or ground spices.

Jasvir enjoys guiding customers to the ingredients they need.“We’re seeing more people getting interested in cooking from other cultures,” he says.

Jagdeep’s puts a different spin on the concept of local food, creating a home- grown business offering flavors from half a world away. But then, all food is local somewhere.

Jagdeep’s Indian Grocery, 356 Ludlow Ave., (513) 961-2699

Originally published in the December 2012 issue.

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