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Green plums and spices: Inside New West's new Persian supermarket

Here’s a new spot to try out teas, spices and baked goods from Iran and its neighbouring countries.

Whether you have a hankering for some melt-in-the-mouth baklavas or are in the mood to whip up a Persian feast, a new supermarket on Sixth Street promises to meet your needs. 

Inside the week-old Persian Baanou Supermarket, what you first see are rows of saffron rock candies, nuts and dried fruits — including three different kinds of raisins. 

A large sack of whole walnuts rests on the floor next to 10-pound bags of tarom and hashemi Iranian rice. 

To the left is a fridge with tubs of Persian yogurt; to the right is a glass display featuring sweets such as baklava — a layered pastry dessert soaked in sweet syrup and filled with chopped nuts, and khajor — a traditional doughnut-like sweet native to Afghanistan. 

Further down is a section dedicated almost exclusively to teas from Iran and its neighbouring countries. 

This leads to a corner that’s stocked with ready-to-cook dishes — like packs of fesenjan, a sweet and sour Iranian stew; haleem, a wheat, meat and lentil blend; and gheyme, an Iranian stew made with diced mutton, split peas and more. 

But so far, their most popular product has been the sangak bread — a large chewy flatbread traditionally baked in a bed of stones ("sang" translates to pebble in Persian), said the store’s owner Meisam Karami.

A professor at Ascenda School of Management in Vancouver, Karami decided to start a supermarket simply because he “loves” the idea of having a place where he can offer "high-quality" food items from not just Persia but also other countries including India, Turkey, “Arab countries and all countries in the Persian Gulf.”  

But more importantly, the supermarket allows him to stay connected with people, he said.

In that way, the business is not so different from his other job where he teaches how to manage diversity in workplace, he added. 

Both come under the “people business,” said Karami, who is originally from Iran.   

Some of the treats that Karami grew up eating in the West Asian country are now part of the New West store — “There’s lavashak (a fruit leather made with dried fruit), pashmak (an Iranian cotton candy made with sugar)…,” he pointed out. 

“And I believe, you have never seen this one before,” added Karami, picking a cherry tomato-sized green round fruit from a basket. 

“This a green plum (also called greengage plum) … every Persian knows about them,” he said. 

And now, we do too. 

Persian Baanou Supermarket is located on 218 Sixth St. It is open between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.