Ah, the joys of the quick-stop, convenience store! Fill up the
gas tank. Grab an OJ and a candy bar. Pick up the local
And don't forget that order of allo saag for lunch.
Yes, the spicy joys and nan-dipping delights (nan being a
flatbread) of Indian food are all too rare here in Rutland County.
Fortunately, the Jia Restaurant at 377 West Street in Rutland and
now, the Castleton Corners Deli & Gas further west offer some
more convenient options when you have a craving for curry or
yearning for chickpeas or lamb.
When I moved back to the area a recently I was resigned to
seeking such ethnic food pleasures in trips to Burlington or
Brattleboro. The closest Indian restaurant that I knew of was in
Then I noticed a little convenience store as I was heading into
Rutland one day, with its sign advertising the Jia Restaurant, but
I was skeptical. How good could Indian food be from a convenience
store? I wondered. Then, one day last summer, I was treated to
lunch from the Jia. Truthfully, I expected nothing special, but was
pleasantly surprised! The saag paneer, which is spinach and cheese
cooked with onions, tomatoes and herbs, set my taste buds into
ecstasy and the garlic nan complemented the dish by allowing me to
scoop out every last bit from the container.
The Harchind family moved to Rutland from Boston after
buying the West Street Corner convenience store/Gulf station back
in 2004. They added a deli, but soon discovered their customers
wanted something different.
"There was huge demand for Indian food in the area," says Rajesh
Harchind, who runs the business along with his brother, Bobby,
their father, Ranjit, their wives and mother. "People kept asking
us why we didn't have Indian food."
They began by offering Indian fare on one day each week.
It helped that Ranjit Harchind had restaurant experience from his
Boston years and was versed in northern Indian cuisine. The demand
continued to grow rapidly, finally resulting in the 2006 creation
of the Jia Restaurant -named after Bobby's daughter.
The Jia Restaurant is open only for take-out from 11 a.m. to 9
p.m. every day except Sunday.
The Jia Restaurant offers a variety of appetizers, nan, and main
courses of lamb, chicken or vegetarian dishes. The latter are
reasonably priced in the $6.99 to $8.99 range and the
portions will leave you quite satisfied. Sample dishes include dal
makhni, which is a combination of lentils flavored with spice and
butter, chicken tikka masala, which are cubes of boneless chicken
sautéed in garlic, ginger and tomatoes, or lamb biryani, which is
boneless lamb cooked with basmati rice and spices. Portions will
leave your stomach full and your taste buds enlightened. Appetizers
are from $1.49 (raita, which is cucumber in a yogurt sauce with
spices) to $3.29 (flat bread chicken sandwich, that includes rice,
cabbage and homemade cheese).
"People are always surprised to see an Indian restaurant in a
gas station," says Rajesh, "and then they're equally surprised that
the food is of good quality!"
Just the thought of Jia's mango lassi (fresh yogurt blend with
mango pulp) makes my mouth watering, which is a testament to the
Living in Fair Haven, however, I can't always rationalize
driving all the way to Rutland to satisfy my urge for Indian
Lucky me, there's another outlet for my cravings, at the
intersection of Routes 4a and 30 at Castleton Corners Deli &
Muhammad Bilal and his wife Asia, were living and working in
Crown Point, NY (Asia's family had lived there for over 13 years
and Muhammed Bilal was working for the International Paper
Mill) when a great opportunity came their way just last year.
"We used to pass through this area a lot and liked it," says
Bilal. "We used to go to Lake Bomoseen or to Castleton State
College two or three times a year. It's a beautiful area."
When Bilal and his brother-in-law, Muhammad Iqbal, saw that the
Castleton Corners Deli & Gas was for-sale last year, they
jumped at the opportunity. They purchased it and now, along with
their spouses, run it as a family business.
"It's a very busy intersection and a good location," says Bilal.
"I love to do business and I feel that I was born to do business
and work for myself!"
Bilal emphasizes that the store features the same offerings as
the previous owners, including a wide, deli selection of popular
Boar's Head meats and a range of build-your-own deli sandwiches and
subs, reasonably priced from $6.38 to $8.25. The family also
expanded the amount of store shelf space since taking over shop
back in November of 2012. This allows for more products ranging
from snacks and cigarettes, to beverages, and other regular,
convenience store offerings. Very quickly, the family had a similar
experience to that of the Harchinds over in Rutland.
"People soon started asking us to offer some ethnic foods," says
They obliged last February by adding two Indian/Pakistani menu
items as daily specials. These include such dishes as chicken
somosa, vegetable somosa, biryani chicken curry, and much more.
"People in the area have been helpful and supportive of us from
day one and we really appreciate it," notes Muhammed. "We want
everyone to know that we continue to offer the same items as the
previous owners, and some new ones as well. Please come by and
check us out."
The ethnic dishes, as well as the regular menu of
sandwiches/subs, are also available for large parties, a popular
request when Castleton State College is in full session.
The Castleton Corners Store & Deli is open from 5 a.m. to 10
p.m. every day of the week, but until midnight during the
The Indian/Pakistani specials are offered Monday through
For more information on The Jia Restaurant visit
For more info about the ethnic offerings at Castleton Corners
Store, call (802) 468-5844.