Taaza Mart, Region’s Largest South Asian Market, Now Open in Aurora | Westword

The Region’s Largest South Asian Market Is Now Open in Aurora

Taaza Mart is packed with hard-to-find ingredients and delicacies, and the food court is a must-visit.
There are snacks galore at Taaza Mart.
There are snacks galore at Taaza Mart. Cynthia Barnes
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Seeming miles of aisles greet shoppers as they enter Taaza Mart, which opened last month in a former Sprouts at Parker and Arapahoe roads near Aurora’s Arapahoe Crossings mall. The more than 20,000-square-foot space is packed with often hard-to-find Desi delicacies and ingredients used when cooking fare from Nepal, Tibet, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. A halal meat shop offers chicken, goat, lamb and a variety of fish, including mackerel and pomfret.

The produce section bursts with a colorful array of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables, and the extensive freezer section is a trove of pre-made goodies like samosas in every flavor. There’s also an array of flours and varieties of rice, idli batter, yogurts and spices, along with difficult-to-source items such as kala namak, a sulfurous Himalayan salt beloved by vegans and essential to an authentic chaat masala spice mix.

The original Taaza Mart opened in Tampa, Florida, and Aurora is its first Colorado outpost. “There’s a large South Asian community here,” says owner Gopinath Kakarla, “and we felt this would be a good place to expand.” Kakarla, who also operated several successful Indian markets and restaurants in Minnesota, is happy with the reception so far. “Customers have been very pleased, and we’re already providing goods to some local restaurants, as well," he adds.
click to enlarge exterior of a grocery store
Taaza Mart debuted last month in Aurora.
Cynthia Barnes
The timing is right. Once relegated to small sections of “ethnic” aisles in mainstream American supermarkets or tiny storefronts in areas with immigrant populations, international flavors — particularly Asian flavors — have taken the nation’s palate by the (taste)buds.

Scott Mowbray is looking forward to a Taaza Mart visit. The Canadian-born Boulder resident is a James Beard Award winner and co-author of The Global Pantry Cookbook; he wants cooks not to fear unfamiliar ingredients. “Every food culture concentrates and preserves its foods, its flavors, right? Usually through fermentation or drying and that kind of thing,” Mowbray notes. “They'll stay in your pantry or your fridge for a long time, and you don't just have to use authentic recipes. They bring flavors into all different types of cooking.”

Pew Research reports that nearly three-quarters of counties in the U.S. have at least one Asian restaurant, which accounts for about 12 percent of restaurants overall. According to a recent article in the New York Times, Americans bought half a billion packets of Shin Ramyun Korean instant noodles last year alone, and chain “global grocers” like H Mart, 99 Ranch and Patel Brothers are expanding — and appealing to more than the nearly 20 million people (7.2 percent of the U.S. population) who trace their roots to Asia. In the Denver metro area, that population is about 4.6 percent.
click to enlarge a food court inside a grocery store
The food court at Taaza Mart has plenty of tempting options.
Cynthia Barnes
In addition to the refreshing lassis, baked goods and made-while-you-watch chapatis, Taaza shoppers will be drawn to the tempting food court, where they can stock up on savory takeout or dig right in at the small dining area. The offerings change daily, but there’s a large selection of both meat and vegetarian appetizers and entrees, including staples such as butter chicken and a particularly delicious malai kofta in a well-spiced tomato and onion gravy. Order individually or ask for the lunch platter, which will come with fluffy steamed rice and fresh, hot chapati.

Eventually, Kakarla plans to offer online ordering, but for now, you’ll need to check out all the freshness — “taaza” means “fresh” in Hindi — in person at the Cornerstar Shopping Center, 15405 East Briarwood Circle in Aurora. The market is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit denver.taazamart.com
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