Simranjeet Kaur’s family table has expanded lately to include the entire population of Pemberton after the local created a side hustle from her lifelong love of cooking nourishing Indian food.

Simi’s Kitchen is a “ghost kitchen”—a food service business serving customers exclusively through delivery.

“I love cooking, but I didn’t have any physical place to run it from. I heard about CloudKitchens,” said Kaur. “Basically, they provide pick-up and delivery services. Lots of places in Vancouver are running a similar style of business.”

Kaur was initially worried her business would not take off, but her family and friends urged her to allow others to enjoy her homely recipes.

“They were all pushing me to do something,” she said. “I also have a rich culture. They told me to pursue it as a side hustle and that if it didn’t work out, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I didn’t have any self-esteem at the beginning. I started researching about it.”

The self-taught cook has followed her passion since she was 13 years old. She is no stranger to a professional kitchen, but had to come to grips with the business side of things to provide a product the community has come to love.

Kaur admits her road to success had a few bumps on it—finding a physical space to cook chief among them.

“My cooking style is more aromatic stuff. I use spices that are traditional to East Asia, Indian and Arabian,” she said. “Most of my spices are really aromatic and they need to be fried and stuff. We didn’t have any places in Pemberton to work from. One of my friends urged us to talk to the community kitchen in the community centre. I didn’t even know there was one!”

Kaur started accepting orders via phone and on Facebook on Christmas Eve 2023.

“On the morning I first posted, I was shaking. My husband said it was a really good day to do it,” she said. “I got three orders the next day and I was so overwhelmed with all the love. I was so grateful in that moment.”

The people of Pemberton were stoked when Kaur filled a gap in the food-service market. Kaur works at Petro-Canada, so is a familiar face to locals, one people couldn’t wait to support.

“Most people know me. I am really blessed with angels around me,” she said. “When I posted online, they literally bombarded me with all the love and shared the word like fire. Hearing positive feedback just makes you feel so good.”

Appetizers, main meals, desserts and extras are all included on the menu at reasonable prices. Kaur’s butter chicken has become a major talking point in the community.

However, Kaur is always open to cooking a meal a customer really wants. She tailors the meals around each individual customer like a mother cooking for her own children.

“I offer customization,” she said. “If someone has something they really want, I can make it up. All my food is kept in a way that the meals can be nut-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and customized. They are interchangeable. I can suit the needs of the person I am cooking for.”

Kaur’s dedication to getting her meals to her customers’ kitchen tables is as remarkable as her cooking.

“I don’t have a car, but my husband bikes on our bike,” she said. “Sometimes, I just walk around and deliver. It’s a small village! Mostly, people are so welcoming. If it’s raining or snowing really hard, we let people know we can’t deliver because we bike around. When I cook, I cook like I’m cooking for my family.”

Kaur said she travels to the city at least twice a month to make sure she has all the spices she needs, buying ingredients in bulk and making her own spices at home.

“My uniqueness is in my taste. I grew up in India where things were done on the stone,” she said. “Things were authentic. I have learned from that. I see here that so much is whitewashed. You find recipes that aren’t even Indian. When I serve food, I know it would help a customer’s gut.

“I want it to be so healthy, so filling and so yummy that it will benefit their health, plus their mind and heart. My mom used to say if the food looks tasty and it provides nutrition, the person will also come back.”

While having her own physical space would be a dream, Kaur is happy to keep cooking for as long as her extended family wants her to.

“I am a go-with-the-flow person,” she said. “If it is in the stars and if a place comes up, great! If it doesn’t, we are still here.”

Kaur’s mouth-watering menu and contact details can be found here.

Roisin Cullen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Pique Newsmagazine

2024-04-18T17:44:14Z dg43tfdfdgfd