Member Profile – Shivani’s Kitchen

Photo of Shivani Dhamija, owner of Shivani's Kitchen, standing alone in a kitchen. She is smiling and wearing a black chef's jacket.

Shivani’s Kitchen, founded and owned by Shivani Dhamija, boasts a wide selection of spice blends, sauces, and ready-to-eat meals. Shivani uses traditional family recipes and local ingredients to encapsulate the vibrant flavours of Indian cuisine, and aims to make restaurant quality food easy and accessible. Keep reading as we sit down with Shivani and discuss her inspirations, products, and why supporting local is so important.

Tell us about your business:
I’m Shivani from Shivani’s Kitchen, and we are manufacturers of ethnic foods. We do spice blends, we do ready-to-use sauces, and ready-to-eat meals. We also make an Indian cheese called paneer.

What are some of your favourite reviews or comments you’ve received?
I love when people say my products are very authentic. Our ready meals sold at Sobeys are $8.50, and the bigger brands sell the same products for $3.99. People are often scared to spend more on our products but once they try it for the first time they are like “woah, this is so authentic and flavourful – it’s almost like a restaurant!” When people comment on the quality of our products, that really brings a smile to my face.

Why is supporting local so important?
Oh it’s so important. The money stays in the province. Our business is doing okay but as a small business our expenses are really high. Our processes aren’t automated, so we are dependent on labour, and our margins are really tight. When you support us, it helps us keep money in the business.

Outside of being a small business owner, what are some of your favourite ways to support local in your personal life?
I love to shop at farmers markets. We have a neighbour in our community who purchases from the farmers markets and distributes it to everyone. I will support her and markets even though it’s more expensive. The quality of local products is just so much better. In our business we also use local produce and chicken, so I use local wherever I can.

In your opinion, what are the benefits of being a small, local business in Nova Scotia?
I get to talk to my people, my customers. Let’s say you have a problem with a big business, you will never be able to talk to the owner. But if you have a problem with our Butter Chicken and Rice meal, you can come talk to me. That’s why I also like to support local because I can give feedback to business owners.

What inspires you about Nova Scotia?
It’s my home. The only inspiration is the people over here; they have been so supportive. I don’t think I can ever leave Nova Scotia. There are locals who have been born and raised here who come and talk to me and are like “Don’t ever leave Nova Scotia!” and I tell them, don’t worry, I’m not planning on it!

What is your favourite product that you offer?
My favourite product is my Garam Masala spice mix. That is the best spice I offer. The ready-to-eat meals are really convenient. But I like to cook and garam masala is my favourite.

What’s coming up next for your business?
Although I can’t say precisely, I can say that we are working on some delicious products to make summer cooking easier and more exciting. Stay tuned to our website for more details soon!

Check out Shivani’s Kitchen’s website to see a full list of stockists, and shop online.

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