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New grocery stores specializing in Indian, Hungarian foods

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Cathy Dobson

Two new specialty grocery stores are bringing the tastes of India and Hungary to Sarnia.

For those who love to make their own korma or butter chicken, a variety store at 809 Errol Rd. East now carries a wide assortment of Indian groceries, spices and sweet treats.

Harminder Singh, the owner of Happy Variety, began stocking his shelves with food items imported from India about four months ago.

Common Indian spices like whole turmeric, cumin, coriander and micro mustard are available. More unique items like Saffron Almond Syrup, Indian chutneys and chyawanprash jam are for sale.

Happy Variety also carries an assortment of rice and flour popular in different regions of India.

The store, which is proving popular with Indian international students attending Lambton College, also offers a small selection of fresh vegetables including parvar, bitter melon and Indian okra and squash. And Happy Variety has hot snacks such as samosas stuffed with potatoes and peas for 75 cents each.

Singh continues to stock regular variety store items such as cigarettes, lottery tickets, movies and snacks.

Happy Variety is open at 809 Errol Rd. East Monday to Friday 7 a.m. – 10 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.


Marianna Hambalek says she’s pleasantly surprised by the number of local residents who have a Hungarian background.

They have been coming through the door of her new Hungarian grocery store since it opened in early October. She says they’re curious to see what is available and to meet the owner of Hungry for Hungary.

The new store is also attracting shoppers who may not have a Hungarian background but love the food, said Hambalek.

It’s the spice, particularly real Hungarian paprika and the Hungarian love of pickling, that sets it apart, she said.

Hambalek moved to Corunna 18 months ago after working for 20 years in administration at Huron College in London. She said she’s met the love of her life here and wants to live near him.

Her idea to open a grocery store specializing in Hungarian food is a natural for her, given her heritage, she said. Hambalek was born in Hungary and moved to Canada when she was 10.

“I want to bring my culture to Sarnia,” she said. “There’s nothing like this here and it’s important to me that others taste the food.”

The shelves at Hungry for Hungary are filled with specialty items like pickled red peppers stuffed with cabbage selling for $6.50 a jar. There’s pickled mixed vegetables too for $9 and jars of red cabbage priced at $4.50.

Mild, medium and hot goulash paste is sold for $3.32 a 160-gram tube. Paprika imported from Hungary and used in so many Hungarian recipes sells for $6.50 per 250 grams.

Two coolers are full of Hungarian sausages, some made in Kitchener-Waterloo, and some made fresh at the back of the store.

Hambalek’s father Miki Hambalek comes every other day to make the all-pork sausages from scratch. They come in hot, medium and mild and are made with varying amounts of cayenne and paprika. There’s also Italian and Spanish sausages, selling on average for $7.50 per pound.

By mid-November, Hambalek hopes to be offering take-out Hungarian salami sandwiches and eventually soups too.

Hungry for Hungary at 207 Christina St. North, is open Monday to Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Got an interesting business story?  Contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or 226-932-0985.


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