For Muskan Sohi, the story behind Kalispell, a family run convenience store and the Indian food they serve, is simple.

She and her parents, Ranjit Singh and Jasbir Kaur, moved to the area from Washington in October 2021 and took over the Conoco gas station at 1090 N. Meridian Rd.

They soon made the decision that her mother, Jasbir Kaur, would start preparing food that could be sold to customers. There were no nerves, no sleepless nights. If people didn’t like her mother’s food, the store and gas station would still survive. But Sohee said there was no particular doubt. She and her father ate and enjoyed her mother’s cuisine for years.

Husband and wife Ranjit Singh and Jasbir Kaur, owners of a Sohi grocery store located at a Conoco gas station on North Meridian in Kalispell, June 10, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | flat lighthouse

“Honestly, we didn’t think about it long before,” Sohee said. “It was just at that moment. We just started saying, “Okay, let’s do this, people will definitely like it.” That’s all”.

The store called Sohi Food Store has a fairly typical range of essentials, drinks and snacks, including fried staples like chicken fingers and corn sticks. But these products are relegated to a narrow strip of metal showcase that glows gold in the light of heat lamps.

The main attraction is the selection of naan, samosa, butter chicken and chicken curry. Sometimes vegetable curry appears on the daily menu. Buttered Chicken and Curry Chicken Dishes come in Styrofoam containers and packed in a separate container filled with white rice. It’s a takeaway setup, with butter chicken for $7.99 and chicken curry for $6.99.

There is also a cold store nearby filled with lassi, a smoothie-like yogurt drink. Sohi’s Mango Sweet Lassi is made primarily with yogurt and mango, with a bit of sugar added. The sweet drink is thick but soft and easy to drink through a straw.

Ranjit Singh keeps a refrigerator filled with lassi, a type of yogurt and fruit smoothie, at a Sohi grocery store located at a Conoco gas station on the North Meridian in Kalispell June 10, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | flat lighthouse

A part-time doctor’s assistant, Muskan Sokhi also helps out at the store, but when it comes to cooking, her mother takes over her duties. Kaur cooks by touch and doesn’t measure anything. Her cooking methods and some of the spices she uses come from family roots in the northern Indian state of Punjab. Pots and pans simmering a fresh batch of chicken in oil or curry can be found on the stove behind the checkout on a given day, and Kaur relentlessly pours out fresh batches as the display shelf begins to thin at the hands of hungry customers. The smell of Kaura cooking is the second thing that greets visitors after the doorbell rings when they open it. Sohi grocery store starts selling Indian food at 10:00 am and usually starts selling out during the day from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm, but sometimes food is still available until 8:00 pm.

Jasbir Kaur keeps a crate at a Sohi grocery store located at a Conoco gas station on North Meridian in Kalispell, June 10, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | flat lighthouse

Indian food options are limited in this part of the state, and Sohee said people sometimes ask for other Indian foods not available in the store. Sometimes people call in advance and make reservations for 20 people. In other cases, people would arrive from two o’clock and stop by for food at the store. Then there are locals like Didi Dallen.

Dallen stormed out of the store Monday afternoon and headed to her car with a samosa and two chicken curries with rice in her hands. Dallen, a former Los Angeles resident who has lived in the area for almost a decade, said the Sohi grocery store reminds her of the Indian food she ate at home. The taste, convenience, and price made her not only a regular customer, but also an advocate for the store, to the point of recommending it to family and friends, and in some cases bringing it to them directly.

She said that the store was not where she usually stopped, but one day, passing by, she became curious and stopped in the parking lot.

“I got a lot of people involved in this,” she said. “It’s good food and it’s a decent amount. Perfect for lunch.”

Ranjit Singh packs an order at a Sohi grocery store located at a Conoco gas station on North Meridian in Kalispell on June 10, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | flat lighthouse

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