A passion project of a mother-daughter duo will begin serving food from south Asia’s Bengal region to Yellowknifers this weekend.
Saswati and Sayani Dirghangi are opening YK Bawarchi, which means “cook” in Urdu. They’re taking orders until Thursday evening for pick-up between 6pm and 9pm on Saturday and Sunday, and hope to eventually open a delivery service.
Daughter Sayani collects the orders over email and Facebook, which mother Saswati prepares at home.
“My mom likes to feed people,” Sayani told Cabin Radio. “We used to do a lot of cooking. There are some family friends who often come to our house – in the normal times, when there were no restrictions – and she would just cook for them.
“People like my mom’s food because she cooks it in a simple way. Sometimes, people are scared that Indian food has a lot of spices, and oil, and ghee, but she tries to cook it in a way that it’s something we can consume daily.
“At the same time, she tries to make it tasty, so we thought maybe people will like Indian food.”
Yellowknife hasn’t had many Indian cuisine options in recent years. The Saffron food truck has been the only consistent presence, while an Indian restaurant named The Ambassador opened in 2018 but shut down three months later.
YK Bawarchi’s menu mainly features dishes from the Bengal region, though Sayani said there is inspiration from various areas of India.
Chicken and chickpea curries are available this weekend, as is puri, a type of deep-fried dough. Dishes to come include Indian fish croquette, pakodas, and patisapta, a type of dessert.
Once it is safe to do so, Saswati and Sayani hope to start delivering their food to customers.
“We are very excited,” Sayani said. “We really want to know what the response is going to be.
“Many people tell us, ‘Why don’t you guys open an Indian restaurant?’ I have seen not only Indian people craving it, but everybody in Yellowknife. If it’s not very spicy and oily, people would be dying to have it.
“I’m hoping that everybody will like our food.”