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Have cellar, travel: West Fargoan offers a healthy option at the company cafe

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As crisp ginger, lemony cardamom, fiery black pepper, licorice-like fennel, hot cinnamon, and tangy cloves filled the air, Rani knew she would soon be savoring a hot cup of the milky tea. and slightly spicy which is as synonymous with households in India as regular tea is with English houses.

Now the West Fargo resident is hoping to bring this sweeter, sweeter wake-up drink to the metro area with her all-new Namaste Chai trailer. Parked in front Hurley at 1417 University Drive South, Namaste offers a healthier and more complete alternative to the large franchise cafes located on either side.

“We wanted people to be able to start their day with something healthy rather than synthetic and processed,” says Rani, smiling broadly. “You are what you drink.”

Rani chose the name Namaste as an expression of goodwill towards the community. “Our motto is kindness to the soul,” she says. “Our soul honors your soul, we honor each other. We wish you the best and we want the best for you.”

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She gets up every morning at 5 a.m. to make tea and prepare the other cold drinks on Namaste’s menu. Using mixtures, powders, or concentrates would save time, but she wants to cook the real thing, just like her grandmother did. She therefore relies on real ingredients: fresh mangoes, real Indian spices, organic milk and honey.

Originally from Punjab, India, Rani says she comes from a tradition in which natural foods, herbs and spices were often the first line of defense against disease. “When we were in India, my grandmother didn’t want to go to the medicine cabinet. It was all about the spices,” says Rani, who points out that every spice in the chai is beneficial, black pepper for ailments. from stomach to cloves – a treasure trove of antioxidants.

Her belief in the healing power of food only intensified after she and her husband, Harmen, learned that their three children had multiple food allergies. Their children’s health issues also prevented him from working regularly, which made the prospect of running his own business more appealing.

When Rani Singh's husband Harmen wasn't working full-time as a chef at India Palace in Fargo, he devoted every spare moment to building the Namaste Chai food wagon for his wife.  Contribution / Namaste Chai

When Rani Singh’s husband Harmen wasn’t working full-time as a chef at India Palace in Fargo, he devoted every spare moment to building the Namaste Chai food wagon for his wife. Contribution / Namaste Chai

The Singhs already have extensive experience in the restaurant industry. Rani’s father, Jas Singh, owns the palace of India in Fargo, and much of Rani’s family works there, including Harmen, a chef.

Jas helped Rani finance the start-up of Namaste Chai. “I am grateful that we have family here to have good support to help us achieve our dreams,” she says.

Whenever Harmen wasn’t working six days a week in the kitchen at India Palace, he would turn the 5-by-10-foot utility trailer into a mini cellar store on wheels. As a finishing touch, he painted several rows of bright red bricks around the base of the trailer.

This last detail surprised and delighted Rani, as the clay brick on a building in India means the structure is officially finished. “That says you’re going to be here forever,” Rani says.

Namaste’s menu includes several different flavors of chai, including a detox version that contains turmeric, ginger, cardamom, and chamomile. But Rani also recognizes how much Americans love their caffeine, so customers can order a “dirty chai” (with a shot of espresso), a “dirty chai” (with two shots of espresso) and even a Chai Charger (turbo-charged with Taurus red).

For the more timid, she offers homemade mango, ginger or cherry lemonade, fresh mango green tea and mango lassi (a frozen drink made from yogurt and mango). Namaste’s drink prices range from $ 3.99 to $ 5.99.

Mangoes feature prominently in many of Namaste's beverage offerings.  The Mango Milk Chai pictured here contains real mangoes and is sprinkled with organic cinnamon.  Contribution / Namaste Chai

Mangoes feature prominently in many of Namaste’s beverage offerings. The Mango Milk Chai pictured here contains real mangoes and is dusted with organic cinnamon. Contribution / Namaste Chai

There are a few homemade treats, although you won’t find monster muffins or Sasquatch scones here. Singh’s sweets are small and healthy, from his dark chocolate pecan cookies to his “delicious bites” (doll-sized muffins loaded with oats, raisins, apricots, flax, chia, sunflower seeds, honey and coconut).

Rani’s next challenge now is to generate interest in her new food wagon. She says she’s available for everything from corporate retreats to craft fairs.

Although only open since Sunday August 29, Namaste Chai has already attracted a regular. One of his first customers, who discovered the cart at the farmer’s market in SheyWest last weekend, reported that she was feeling tired and sick until she tried their chai. “Afterward she said ‘I feel so, so good,'” Rani reports, smiling broadly. Since then, the woman has been driving through town every day for a cup of Rani chai.

It all brings Rani back to the transformative powers of her grandmother’s cellar. “I wanted it to come back,” she said, “to see the smile on the person taking that first sip.”

Namaste Chai will be located in front of Hurley Religious Articles from 7 a.m. to noon from Monday to Thursday and Beds by design lot, 4505 13th Ave S., 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. They will also be part of the farmer’s market and beyond from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays to SheyWest, 225 W. 40th Avenue, West Fargo.

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