Ashi’s Rasoi butter chicken and non-dairy butter chicken authentic masala blends hit Vanderhoof store shelves earlier this month at the Co-op Food Store and Jim’s Your Independent Grocer. (Asha Dhak photo)

Vanderhoof small business gets product onto retail store shelves

"It's quite a journey."

  • Jul. 22, 2021 12:00 a.m.

It’s been a delicious, rewarding journey for Asha Dhak of Vanderhoof.

The owner and founder of Ashi’s Rasoi Spices Ltd. has gotten her product on two local store shelves, including the Co-op Food Store and Jim’s Your Independent Grocer.

With easy-to-follow instructions, the pouches containing chicken or non-dairy butter chicken authentic masala blends are available for customers to prepare a tasty meal in about 45-minutes in the comforts of their own homes.

Dhak had initially been hoping to hit store shelves on her 60th birthday but said things had to slow down due to COVID-19.

“I turned 60 last year, but it did happen while I was still 60 because we launched our product on July 8, and I turned 61 on Tuesday, July 13, so yay,” she said, exclaiming with a laugh.

“It did happen.”

Dhak grew up in India, where her passion for life, culture and food can be traced.

In 1979 she and her husband Tawinder moved to the community of Vanderhoof and grew their family.

She worked as a dietary cook for Northern Health and an East Indian cooking instructor for the College of New Caledonia, regularly sharing her culture in schools, local programs and fundraisers.

Shortly after Dhak’s early retirement in 2016, Ashi’s Rasoi Spices Ltd. was born.

In 2017 she started with just one product—her butter chicken blend and today has grown to more than 18 products.

She sells them online and introduced them at the Vanderhoof Farmers’ Market in 2019.

When Tawinder later retired, Dhak got a helping hand with her home-based business, and they became regular features at farmers’ markets last year in Vanderhoof and Prince George.

The products made and packaged at their home is a family affair as Tawinder, whom Dhak calls her best team player, assists, and their two sons provide help where they can.

A co-packer in Vancouver, meanwhile, looks after their store shelf-products.

“It’s been very rewarding, and we really appreciate all the love and the support, and the confidence that our customers gave us to move forward,” Dhak said.

“We’re thankful for that, and being in a small community, it’s just a beautiful thing, and that’s how we grew. Small communities are just like family; everybody knows everybody, especially when you’re long-term residents here, which we are.”

Dhak said they hope to see their chicken and non-dairy butter chicken authentic masala blends on other store shelves in the near future.

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