To say that this Indian grocery is well-stocked is an understatement.
According to their website, Navs Grocery sells over 10,000 products and the store has shelves bursting with flavours and boxes of spices and snacks that you likely won’t find at your local convenience store.
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Located at 5 Bastion Street along Lakeshore Boulevard, the store is a hidden gem in a mostly residential part of downtown Toronto. The family-owned business came about because co-owner Divya Bajoria said that it was a struggle to find Indian products downtown with most Indian stores located outside the downtown core.
Along with her husband Navneet (who the store is named after) and his father Govind Chowdry, they opened the store just before the pandemic shutdown in January 2020. They initially sold regular grocery items but slowly started adding more Indian products.
“I said, ‘Let’s try it,'” recalled Bajoria. “We found that it’s not just the Indians looking for [these items] but other communities loved it. They said that they really needed something like this.”
The store clearly fills a void in the area because from 3:30 pm to 4 pm, the store is abuzz with shoppers.
You can find different types of flour, lentils, beans, rice, condiment, and a rainbow selection of spice boxes.
There’s an entire section of just microwavable vegetarian meals such as paneer makhani, dal makhani, vegetable biryani, and chana masala.
The main aisle is rather popular with shelves packed with a wide variety of snacks.
One side is full of savoury options like muruku (a crunchy snack made with beans), spiced banana chips, and the sweet and salty khatta meetha.
The other side is layered with biscuits in flavours such as pistachio, cardamom, almond, and strawberry.
Head to the back where you’ll find boxes upon boxes of pans and pressure cookers, as well as cooking utensils.
The walls are lined with freezers where you can find frozen food such as kebabs, masala dosas (a potato crepe), dahi vada (bean fritters), and easy-to-eat potato wraps.
They also have drinks such as mango lassi, rose syrup, aloe vera juice, and Indian gooseberry juice.
When it comes to desert, Navs Grocery does not disappoint. Not only do they have barfi (milk and pistachio), sticky jalebis (similar to funnel cake) and gulab jamuns (dough soaked in rose flavoured syrup) but they also have rasmalai (clotted cream with cardamom), as well as the mango version (can confirm: it’s delicious).
Govind, who manages the store, said that they get weekly deliveries of fresh fruit and produce such as mangoes, okra, bottle guard, and other Indian vegetables. They also sell samosas and spiced buns like dabeli (mashed potatoes, coriander, and pomegranate) and vada pao (potato, turmeric, and ginger).
According to their website, they also deliver.
The store has been such a success that they’re opening a second and much bigger location by the waterfront at 89 Queens Quay West at the end of May.
Bajoria said that although they haven’t really advertised their store, they are “growing by word of mouth.”
Address: 5 Bastion Street, Toronto