Continental Salt “N” Peppers is a delicious food vendor in Pickering Markets that opened in 2011, specializing in Northern Indian food. The owners, Riaz and Sheeba Ahmed, decided to open the eatery and catering business after learning that Pickering Markets did not offer any halal options at the time. With a large and growing number of Muslims in the local area of Pickering, they felt this was the best place to build their small business and grow their roots.
It has been quite the culinary journey for Riaz so far. When speaking to him, I learned so much about his family history, the business, and his culinary chops! Riaz was born and raised in Lucknow, India and always had an affinity towards cooking. He showed interest at a young age, helping out in the kitchen, testing out his recipes for his family to taste, and eventually learning the basics of the cuisine. After secondary school, Riaz decided to take his culinary interest and turn it into a career. His next three years were spent in Kolkata studying Indian Cooking and Applied Nutrition in college. It was there he learned how to refine his family recipes, along with learning new methods and techniques of traditional Indian cooking. Armed with this new knowledge, he opened up a take away spot with his brother in the heart of Kolkata for four years.
A new chapter in his journey started when Riaz immigrated to Canada. He settled down in Pickering and co-owned and operated a Indian restaurant in the local area for another 4 years. In 2011, Riaz and his wife Sheeba, saw the opportunity at Pickering Markets and jumped at the chance to be the first halal food vendor in the food court.
Today, Continental Salt “N” Peppers is thriving with new and old customers lining up to get a taste of their authentic North Indian dishes! Their signature dishes and customer favorites are the Butter Chicken and Chicken Biryani, although everything there tastes delicious. Other items on the menu are Chicken Tikka Masala, Tandoori Chicken, Samosas, naan bread and various vegetarian dishes. One main reason why everything tastes so spectacular is because Riaz and Sheeba believe in quality, quantity and consistency.
Since the day they opened Continental Salt “N” Peppers, they have always made everything from scratch and respected each ingredient used in their dishes. As many of you know, Indian cooking can take a long time, but Riaz doesn’t take any shortcuts and uses that time to continuously build the flavors in each dish. Each step is taken with considerable care, from soaking the rice for 4 hours to the prepping of fresh garlic and onions. Like a symphony, each ingredient and step has a purpose and when played together, it forms into a balanced delicious composed dish.
When eating at Continental Salt “N” Peppers, be warned, because no matter what age, background or religion you grew up in, their food will have a way of tasting like home.
“My firm belief is whatever you do, do it honestly and sincerely, and that’s exactly what I do” – Riaz Ahmed
Visit Continental Salt “N” Peppers booth 2707 or http://www.pickeringmarkets.com/vendor/continental-salt-n-peppers/ for catering inquiries.