Guzzetti’s Market, behind Holbrook’s Furniture on Park Avenue in Chico, invites shoppers into shelves of Indian groceries. The small shop occupies what used to be a storage area for the catering business, with its big kitchen still behind colorful curtains in the market. Just before California shut down last March due to the pandemic, owner Deepika Tandon had moved her catering supplies from a storeroom to create the market. New flooring had been installed by March 15, the shutdown hit on March 17. Now, a year later, the market is open to masked customers, who won’t be disappointed.
Tandon gave two reasons for opening the Indian grocery market. First, the closure of Chico’s only similar market a couple of years ago created a need in the local Indian community. Such a market saves many folks the trip to Yuba City’s Indian grocery stores. Second, Guzzetti’s Catering and Indian Food could avail itself of the products Guzzetti’s Market sells.
There’s a third reason, too. For the last fourteen years, Tandon has been a regular at Chico’s Certified Farmers’ Markets, tempting every shopper who passed by with samples of her paranthas and dips, masalas and chutneys. Guzzetti’s Catering has developed a loyal following—and inspired those fans to create Indian dishes at home. Customers have been asking for cooking classes, and the idea appeals. Tandon learned to cook from her mother, in her mother’s kitchen in Delhi; she can offer others the same family recipes, plus ingredients from the adjacent grocery market.
While the cooking classes will wait until Butte County moves to a less restrictive Covid-risk tier, which Tandon anticipates (hopes) will be in May or June, a visit to Guzzetti’s Market can serve not only as cooking inspiration but also as a substitute for international travel.
It would require an abacus to discover whether the market offers more flours, pulses, or spices. Gluten-free flours include rice, corn, sorghum, bean, amaranth, and millet, among others. Pulses include lentils of all colors, peas, chickpeas, and black-eyed peas, kidney beans, mung beans, and others. The spice shelves hold turmeric, cumin, cinnamon sticks, cloves, saffron, bay leaves (gigantic!), tamarind, fenugreek, cardamom, and black cardamom, as well as boxes of masala spice blends for particular dishes like fish curry, meat curry, or chickpea and various other vegetarian curries.
Other Indian staples, like mango and pomegranate powder; sesame, eucalyptus, and mustard oil; hard cylinders of jaggery, an unrefined cane sugar, and jaggery pieces (to sweeten a cup of tea) occupy the shelves, as do a variety of snack foods. Tandon points to the sweet and savory cookies of her childhood and notes personal care items like henna, soaps, and toothpaste, all, like everything in the store, products of India. She also explains traditional Indian medicinal uses for store items like Indian gooseberries and psyllium. And she’s proud of the frozen food selections: desserts, vegetables, breads. Of course, in the refrigerated display are many of her paranthas, dips, masalas, and chutneys, which join butter, yogurt, paneer, and juices from India.
Catching Deepika Tandon in the store definitely enhances the shopping experience. (I learned she boils rice with cumin, cloves, cinnamon sticks, black cardamom, and bay leaves.) But even if she’s not there, products entice and cooking adventures beckon.
117 W 14th Street, Chico
10–6 Mon-Fri; 3–6 Sun; closed Sat
530.896.1647 | chicoindianfood.com
Order online and pick up in an hour
Edible Shasta-Butte is the guide to local food, dining, and gardening in Northern California’s central valley from Butte County north to the Oregon border.