Enter Oakley Spice House, a new Indian grocery store specializing in seasoning. Owners Ranbir and Sukh Singh opened the store at the beginning of March, and have enjoyed growing popularity within the community. “We’ve had good support,” said Ranbir, who expressed particular gratitude to the city offices: “The planning department was so nice and so helpful.”
The array of boxed seasoning packages ($1.49) available at Oakley Spice House provides any home cook the essential flavors of traditional Indian food. The mixes include butter chicken masala and the highly popular garam masala. The spices can be added to meals prepared in any style and with any ingredients. “Anything you cook, you can add this,” said Ranbir.
The packages are small, allowing you to experiment with many flavors and not get stuck with a lot of surplus spice. When you find a mix that strikes your fancy, you can buy the composite spices individually, and Ranbir and Sukh are happy to explain how to prepare the seasonings. They’ll also research recipes to expand your culinary repertoire. “We give them ideas,” said Sukh.
The store also carries ready-to-eat Indian food ($3.49, buy one; get one free) such as Punjabi Choley: curried chickpeas in a spicy sauce, or Bhindi Masala: okra in a thick curry. To accompany the meal, you can purchase imported Indian beverages such as lychee and mango drinks ($1.49). Fresh produce is also available, as are Indian biscuits, candy, desserts and snacks.
Ranbir’s personal favorite snack food is the Navrattan ($3.99), made with spicy noodles, lentils, peanuts, puffed rice and sun-dried potato chips. The store also carries 24 varieties of pickles – a staple of traditional Indian grocery stores – and Ranbir continues to bring in more varieties. “We’re still making the list,” he laughed. Rice, beans, baking supplies, and everyday cooking ingredients are also available.
Then, of course, there are the spices. From coriander to the coveted saffron, Oakley Spice House provides a broad selection of dried and fresh seasonings. Ranbir and Sukh are also bringing in an increasing selection of Hispanic foods, per request, including fresh tortillas from Concord. Shoppers can pick up free Hindi, Punjabi and English newspapers, purchase jewelry from India or buy or rent Hindi and Punjabi movies to watch at home.
Having moved to Oakley seven years ago, Ranbir and Sukh noticed that many residents drove all the way to Oakland to buy Indian ingredients. “We thought we should open an Indian store, because we didn’t have one,” said Sukh. They intend to tailor the store to serve the needs of its patrons, and are currently completing the application to start accepting food stamps.
They also welcome requests for new products, or even for specific brands. “I’m a very open person,” said Ranbir. “You need anything, let us know.”
Oakley Spice House, located at 3513 Main St., is open Mondays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Call 925-513-5041.