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Spice City Toronto: A South Asian Superstore in Thorncliffe Park

A Thorncliffe Park halal grocer sells hard-to-find foods a mere stone's throw from downtown.

Breakfast at Iqbal Kebab and Sweets Centre. Photo by Sarah Efron.

Iqbal Halal Foods is one of the pioneer ethnic grocers in Toronto. Established in 1991 at 2 Thorncliffe Park Drive, this large halal superstore is a well-loved destination for Thorncliffe Park’s large South Asian community. Another great thing about Iqbal is the location: nestled on the edge on an industrial zone in Thorncliffe Park, it’s one of the closest ethnic supermarkets to the city core.

I started my visit to Iqbal’s off with breakfast in the adjacent Iqbal Kebab and Sweets Centre. For $6.95, you get a spicy potato aloo, a chickpea curry called chhole, two fried puri breads, a garnish of Indian pickle, and some bright-orange cream of wheat. The cream of wheat, explained Nazmul, one of our fellow diners, is made with ghee (Indian clarified butter) and spices. Food colouring gives the dish its orange hue.

In the grocery store next door, Nazmul, who hails originally from Bangladesh, kindly offered to show us around. First stop was the bread section. There’s a wide selection of Afghan flat breads, pitas, naan, chapati, and paratha. If you want to make your own dosa or idli (a type of Indian/Sri Lankan breakfast cake made from fermented lentils), you can buy premade batter.

The produce section features some veggies you’re unlikely to find at many other groceries in town. Iqbal sells fresh channa—raw, unprocessed chick peas—as well as raw (unroasted) peanuts, which are strangely squishy to the touch. You can sample banana flowers, which can be made into salads, fritters, or stir fries. In addition to more familiar vegetables, like bitter melon and okra, you can get snake gourd, a long, thin vegetable that resembles a serpent, and betel leafs, a mild stimulant chewed with betel nut.

Read the rest at Spice City Toronto.

Spice City Toronto explores Toronto’s great hole-in-the-wall restaurants and strip-mall joints serving food from all corners of the world.

CORRECTION: 1:06 PM Our original headline mistakenly located this store in Flemingdon Park; it is actually in Thorncliffe Park.


  • J

    The headline needs to be changed to Thorncliffe Park. Flemingdon Park is a different neighbourhood, separated by the Don Valley

    • TorontoistEditors

      Right you are. Correction issued!

    • HotDang

      You know a lot about parks!

  • Ho Hum

    Does the writer not know what Halal is?

    Does she not know that Halal involves the inhumane slaughter of animals (without stunning).

    Does she not know that Halal involves paying Muslim certification agencies a fee and that these agencies have ties to terrorist groups – i.e. if you buy Halal you are financially supporting Jihadists?

    Does she not know that Halal involves discriminatory hiring practices that excludes non-Muslim and ALL woman from the slaughter process?

    Efron seems to think that Halal is something great. You would think that someone with a Jewish surname would be better informed on the reasons why we should BOYCOTT HALAL!.

    The only good thing that I see about this supermarket is that the goods are plainly marked as Halal unlike many places that do not alert the consumers that they are buying Halal meat. HERO Burger and Popeye’s are example of two fast food chains that serve only Halal meat. Neither restaurant advertises this fact inside their stores.

  • Ho Hum
  • Ho Hum
  • OgtheDim

    Scary that there are guys who just google the words halal or muslim in order to cut and paste hate. I suppose they see it as doing the work of heroes but, really, its a sad life they must be living.