Even with relatives from her native India coming this summer, Prema Chandra has a new, more relaxed attitude about cooking Indian food at her house on Wild Rose Drive.
That's because she won't have to worry about finding time to drive to Burlington to stock up on ingredients at the closest Indian grocery store. She won't have to face the frustration of a long return trip for a few forgotten items.
Instead, she can find the taste of home in her hometown of Andover - and her mother-in-law, especially, will be thrilled.
"That's her favorite flour," Chandra said, while touring the new Indian grocery store in Andover's Shawsheen Plaza. "Oh, she will be so happy."
Located where Photo USA used to be in the North Main Street plaza, the new K2 India Bazaar carries specialty groceries from India as well as Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Chandra gave the store's inventory a thumbs up, saying northern and southern food favorites of India are well represented.
"There's just nothing like a mango from India. These are so sweet," Chandra said while buying a case of the fruit.
Owner Rajinder "Raj" Punj smiled in agreement. He and his brother, Davinder Punj, have been in the grocery business for more than 20 years and know how much Indian shoppers enjoy mangos from their homeland. The brothers also own a similar store, Indian Bazaar, in Malden.
They targeted Andover because its Indian population is growing, Raj Punj said. The latest census data from 2000 on the town's population demographics shows Andover was about 92 percent white, and it still is largely Caucasian. But Raj Punj says the number of people born in India and living in Andover has increased since 2000.
"We've got the products for them," he said of his customers. "Whether you are a cook or an Indian-food lover, it's all here for you."
Raj Punj said they had long desired to set up a business in Andover. Ideally, they wanted a location in a strip mall with a big grocery store and plenty of parking. Of course, Andover does not have many strip malls, so the brothers patiently waited for retail space to become available at Shawsheen Plaza.
"We are very happy," Raj Punj said of the 15,000-square-foot space.
Chandra believes local Indian shoppers will be pleased when they learn about the store.
"It's convenient," she said. "We've had to drive a distance out of town for these items."
Now, fresh atta, rice, dals and Indian spices have arrived on the Andover scene. There are also plenty of snacks to go with Indian tea.
"And the prices are good," Chandra said. "I think people will be very happy."