Inside Indian Food and Spice grocery store on Padanaram Road in Danbury, Connecticut, The Mango Tree’s brother and sister duo, Sim and Maneet Singh, combine the forces of family, religion, and culture to produce homestyle dishes full of North Indian flavor. The Mango Tree, a small hot food stand inside the grocery store, opened this past August when the siblings began leasing a newly renovated kitchen in-store.
Sim graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2012 with a degree in economics, and Maneet, described as “the talent”, is a natural-born cook. The two explained that women are typically introduced to cooking at young ages in India, fostering an early sensibility in the culinary arts.
“Indian food is cooked by feel,” said Maneet in an in-store interview, going on to note that just as religion plays a major role in Indian cooking, different regions of India produce different tastes. The Singhs do their best to provide for the growing Indian community in Greater Danbury and hope to expand their hot food to different grocers in the area.
The Mango Tree’s menu features a standard set of dishes, including Aloo Gobi, a cauliflower and potato dish prepared with turmeric, salt, and garam masala.
Sim and Maneet chose to opt out of expanding the stand into a full-scale restaurant due in part to statistics, keeping in mind that most restaurants don’t thrive within their first year.
“Garam Masala is a mix of cumin seeds, coriander, bay leaves, fennel seeds, and cardamom,” explained Sim, “which we then grind into a powder and use in several dishes we prepare.” The mix is also included in Tharka, which Sim described as “a typical base for many North Indian dishes consisting [roughly] of onions, crushed tomatoes, turmeric, curry powder, cumin seeds, ginger, garlic, fresh coriander, and fresh chilis. This base may vary slightly in terms of spices depending on what dish one is preparing and the chef’s personal preference/experience.”
The Mango Tree’s daily specials introduce variety to the menu; from eggplant to fish dishes, everything is served with rice and three different varieties of chutney and is available for take-out at $6.99 per per pound. An extra 50 to 75 cents is charged for made-to-order roti and paratha bread. Sim and Maneet use only fresh ingredients and no preservatives, believing in creating affordable, homestyle dishes.
Sim graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2012 with a degree in economics, and Maneet, described as “the talent”, is a natural-born cook.
The Mango Tree also offers an expanded menu for off-site catering. This weekend, Sim and Maneet will be catering the Indian Association of Western Connecticut‘s celebration of Navratri, a religious festival that happens both in spring and fall to worship the Hindu deity Shakti, the goddess of energy and power. The celebration will take place at Henry Abbott Tech High School from 7:30pm to midnight, on Saturday, October 27 and will feature music by Dandiya Beats. Admission is $5.