Cooking Classes


In 1993 at a Canada Day festival, Arvinda, Paresh and Preena volunteered to prepare Indian snacks to sell to raise funds for a women’s charity. The festivalgoers were enticed and intrigued by these Indian flavours, hungry for the know-how to make these delicious savoury pakoras and samosas at home. Enquiry after enquiry, Arvinda promptly offered ‘ad hoc’ cooking demos at the booth, enthusiastically describing how to make these tasty appetizers with only a few simple ingredients. The patrons scratched these directions out on napkins, craving to learn more about Indian cooking. Throughout the weekend, more and more people enquired about Indian cooking lessons which sparked the family's entrepreneurial spirits. Arvinda was inspired and truly wanted to help others learn about the incredible cuisine of India.


Over that summer, the mother-and-daughter duo worked to put together a series of cooking classes to run that coming fall. Under the name, Healthy Gourmet Indian Cooking, they created their new-found Indian cooking school. At a time when Indian cooking was relatively unknown, Arvinda aspired to share her knowledge and passion for Indian cuisine with others, demonstrating how to prepare healthy Indian foods at home, with easy cooking methods. Of utmost importance, Arvinda sought to teach about spices, the cornerstone of traditional Indian cooking. In an eight-week Indian Beginner's Cooking course, participants learned about the storied history of spices but most importantly, she emphasized that quality spices and ingredients are essential for the best tasting Indian foods. Arvinda and Preena traveled to the exotic spice growing regions of India and Sri Lanka to understand how spices are cultivated, harvested and brought to market, meeting passionate farmers, traders and spice merchants along the way.


Indian Spice Blends

From Customer Demand ...

During Arvinda’s cooking classes, her students noticed the superior freshness and quality of the spices she used, and always requested to purchase them directly from her. They also sought advice on how to make Indian cooking easier, prompting Arvinda to mix fresh batches of masalas (mixture of spices) for her students to try. The masalas became so popular with the students, they would tell Preena and her brother Paresh, “you should bring them to market!”. The siblings put that idea on the backburner but talked about it from time to time.

... A Spice Company Is Born!

In the mid-2000s while a Masters student, Preena received a small amount of funds to start-up a small business. Inspired by the show, Recipe for Success that profiled entrepreneurs who were successful in bringing a family recipe to market, Paresh and Preena launched Arvinda’s Indian spice blends. With their savings in-hand, they bootstrapped their start-up and found a small industrial unit they converted into a food production facility. Their first showing of Arvinda’s masalas was at the Asian Food Expo which won the likes of celebrity chefs asking to buy foodservice sizes of their masalas for their acclaimed restaurants in Toronto.

Spicing Things Up!

Pushing Forward

At the time of Arvinda’s launch in the mid-2000s, many customers didn’t know what a masala was, sometimes mistaking the word masala for marsala, the famous Sicilian wine. Paresh and Preena tirelessly worked to introduce their blends to the market which was dominated by Indian convenience-based products. They pushed forward and worked at educating customers how to make healthy and easy curries from scratch, using spices at countless cooking demonstrations, farmers’ markets, trade shows and culinary events. Their efforts paid off and they started to gain the attention from major grocery chains, specialty retailers and eventually, distinguished retailers in the United Kingdom and France, including the venerable Harrod’s. At the same time, Arvinda’s Indian cooking classes attracted larger audiences with participants attending from Brazil to Germany, US to Japan, and they also started taking groups of their students on culinary trips to India, meeting with local chefs to share with them an immersive Indian cooking experience.

Turning up the Heat

The Arvinda’s brand continues to shake things up on their spice journey to continue to educate and inspire others about cooking with powerful and amazing Indian spices. Paresh and Preena launched a new line of spices under the Arvinda’s brand, called Bombay Shake—the original spice seasoning. Preena then hosted a television series called, Masala Magic Recipes for two seasons, demonstrating how masalas can create endless Indian vegetarian specialties, and later, the siblings opened up a spice boutique and masala chai café, called Arvinda’s Spices & Chai. Today, Arvinda’s loyal and passionate following continues to grow amongst foodies and home cooks who aspire to create delicious, traditional and healthy Indian foods at home, and most recently they're excited to share their Indian cooking journey through their forthcoming cookbook, New Indian Basics.