Bringing the Halal to Saint John
A new online grocery store specializing in East Indian and Middle Eastern foods has begun operating in Saint John.
Mohammed Nasir Niazi, with his daughter Haleema, is running a new online grocery store catering to East Indian and Middle Eastern tastes.
Mohammed Niazi, who moved to Saint John in December, launched Chilli and Olive Groceries last month, which lists more than 200 items, including spices, desserts, pickles and pastes, lentils, rice, naan breads, parathas and a variety of frozen vegetables such as okra, dudhi and tindora.
It also sells halal meat, specially prepared according to Islamic law.
“This is something similar to kosher meat for the Jews.
“One person has to go to make the slaughter at the abattoir and we say the name of God before we slaughter. All over the world, this is a practice. But in this area of New Brunswick, there was nothing available until three or four years ago when I started.”
Niazi came to Canada from Pakistan in 1995 to study engineering at the University of Regina.
He eventually moved to Fredericton in 2002 to operate a Wireless World franchise at a mall.
Niazi soon realized that the international students at the University of New Brunswick were having a difficult time finding halal meat. So he started a sideline business providing them food.
“A lot of the students on campus didn’t have enough space in their freezers to bring big quantities from Toronto or Montreal,” he said.
“So it started out as a project for the students.”
Eventually, it became a full-time job and he opened a Fredericton store.
“We were looking to expand to various areas of New Brunswick and the first place that came to our mind is Saint John.”
Saint John has a larger Muslim community compared to Fredericton as well as a larger base of international students at UNBSJ.
This academic year alone, 150 students came from Saudi Arabia.
In addition, the city is home to a large Lebanese community as well as many Iranian families.
Niazi receives the orders online, assembles the order at his home on Lancaster Avenue and delivers the food right to the door.
With a wireless debit machine, people can pay for the groceries at home.
Eventually, Niazi wants to open a retail space in Saint John.
“First, I wanted to gauge what kind of demand is available,” he said. “From what clientele I have so far, that’s what my next step is going to be – open a store.”
For more information, visit the website at www.chilliandolive.com or call 721-6934.