Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Karma Conscious Café and Eatery, Saskatoon

Newly arrived from Rajasthan, it was hard for Roshni Patawari to head off to work at 5 am on a dark, cold winter morning in Saskatoon. With various culinary and pastry courses under her belt, it was even harder to be confined to using pre-mixed ingredients. “I like taking a recipe and making small alterations,” Roshni explains.

An airline magazine article about boutique coffee shops sparked an idea in Roshni’s head. How much would it cost, she wondered? Her husband, Vivek Patawari, dismissed the idea at first, even when a friend told him about a local coffee shop that was for sale. When Roshni heard about it, however, she encouraged him to obtain more information, and the purchase quickly fell into place.

“It was like matching dots,” Vivek says. “It was laid out for us.”

Roshni’s dream now had a home at Karma Conscious Café and Eatery on 2nd Avenue North. With help from Unite Digital Marketing Co-operative, Karma began to come to life around four specific themes.

Super Foods 
“We want to nourish our customers,” Roshni says. And they certainly do. Beautifully presented, the food tastes great and provides a healthy meal, even on a busy work day.

As both Roshni and Vivek are vegetarian, the café serves vegetarian and vegan food. Their Indian heritage provides the foundation for many of their dishes, but always with a twist. The naan bread sandwiches include Banh Mi and a Mexican option as well as a classic Tandoori Paneer. You can choose a Maki Bowl, an Asian Buddha Bowl, or a Vegan Butter Chicken.

Healthy ingredients are key with many superfoods finding a place on the menu. There’s bullet-proof chai and coffee as well as kombucha, and you can substitute quinoa for rice in the bowls. The mango lassi (vegetarian and vegan options) is topped with chia seeds. Fermented foods have their spot on the menu with vegan kimchi in the Banh Mi, while the Very Yogini sandwich combines tzatziki, falafels, and arugula with a topping of nutritional yeast.

“Lots of our customers are corporate people who start their day very early,” Vivek says. “We want to offer them healthy breakfast options.” Oatmeal Latte combines two shots of espresso with brown sugar oatmeal. You can fix your own Power Bowl with a choice of cereals, nuts, fruit, and “milk.” The Scone Sliders and Breakfast Sandwich options change frequently so regular customers won’t get bored.

The emphasis on healthy food doesn’t stop you from enjoying a few treats. The Ferrero Rocher Cheesecake has a creamy mousse filling topped with a layer of rich chocolate and there’s often cake as well as freshly baked scones, supersonic energy balls and bars.

Social Conscience 
“Our parents emphasized the importance of doing good deeds and that is what we try to practise every day,” Vivek explains. The cafe donates 3% of its profits to a different charity every three months and holds one or two events that directly support the charity.

The Khichdi fundraiser for the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre in May was surprisingly tasty – simple ingredients prepared well – and it was great to know that 50% of the profits went to help our local food bank.

Community Partners 
Working with community partners is particularly important for Karma Café’s owners. They serve locally roasted Road Coffee, cold-pressed juices from Thrive, and purchase their samosas and falafels from River Nile Oriental Foods and Handcrafts at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market.

A partnership with Saskatoon Ferments led to an afternoon of workshops and demonstrations followed by a potluck supper during the annual 2nd Avenue Sidewalk Sale.

There are yoga classes every Tuesday evening with proceeds going to the Saskatoon Food Bank.

Local musicians add a welcome note on Fridays and Saturdays.

Good Karma 
You feel welcome the minute you walk in the door of Karma Conscious Café and Eatery. Brightly coloured cushions and hanging plants encourage you to sit down and relax. The outdoor tables and benches are a choice spot on a sunny day.

Vivek and Roshni greet their regular customers with a hug and always check to make sure you’re enjoying your food.

“Having a storefront has exposed us to so many great people. We’ve had so many champions and everyone is very willing to share their ideas,” Vivek says. “It gives us so much enthusiasm to keep going.”

Karma Conscious Café and Eatery is open Monday –Thursday from 7:30 am – 6 pm, Fridays from 7:30 am – 9 pm, Saturdays from 10 am – 9 pm, and Sundays from 10 am – 5 pm.

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