Deepam India caters to diners, home chefsWritten by Scott McKimmy | | email@example.com
In Toledo, a town populated by restaurants of ethnic diversity, paying $25 to cook your own cuisine might seem a little pricey.
But at Deepam India Deli and Food Mart in Sylvania Township, the entree comes with a full course – or rather a demonstration – on how to prepare the recipe so customers can shop for ingredients on site, then stir up a spicy, authentic, homemade Indian dish with confidence.
Revathi Chillapalli, co-owner and operator, hosts the monthly demos using all fresh meats and vegetables she orders through specialty wholesalers in Chicago, New Jersey and Canada.
Although they’ve been popular, she said that the demos have been put on hold until September because of high demands for catering services. But customers can still come in, ask questions and try deli selections, most slow-cooked over a fire and chock full of herbs with high medicinal values.
Deepam India stocks a complete line of Chillapalli’s native foods, from ready-to-eat frozen meals to breads, rice and lentils, known as ”dals” in her culture. With key ingredients such as canola oil, olive oil, ginger and garlic, she said she is crusading against the myth that Indian foods are too greasy and less than healthy. Those who have listened are becoming firm believers.
”Our concept is different. We want to introduce healthy cooking with Indian food, and we carry the products,” she said. ”We don’t have thousands of customers per day, but the ones we have, they love us.”
Earning love takes time, as much as 10 to 12 hours per day for Chillapalli as well as duties for her husband, Siva, co-owner, and a handful of employees. The couple has gained considerable business experience as former owners of Cajun Joe’s, a franchise of Subway Restaurants. Ms. Chillapalli previously owned School Technology Solutions, which helped educators integrate technology into the teaching process.
Originally from Vizag, India, a port city and tourist attraction on the Bay of Bengal, Chillapalli arrived to the United States in 1980 and attended the University of Toledo, where she received her master’s degree in sociology.
Her talents extend beyond teaching and cuisine. She also paints, with four works of Indian mythological characters on display at the deli as conversation pieces for customers. Devoting so much time and effort into the business, she added she’s content with one location, which has brought her closer to unique and interesting people.
”We cater to different kinds
of people. Some buy just what
we make; some come here just for the groceries,” she said. ”Some people we see maybe twice a week, then they’ll bring
in their friends.”