Started in 2002 by Kiwi-Indians Vandana and Jignesh Shahji, Shahji Spices is New Zealand’s first and only Indian gourmet store. The power couple decided to put their family history, experience and passion to the ultimate test by creating a store that offered New Zealanders a first ever ‘one stop shop’ solution for healthy foods.
As a business that is committed to promote holistic living, Shahji prides itself in being a market leader in the sale of organic, fair trade certified, sustainable and gluten & allergen free foods.
Our Story:The masterminds behind the Shahji brand – Vandana and Jignesh Shahji, come from a rich lineage of ancestors who have been experts in the holistic foods industry for the past seven generations. So they aren’t kidding when they say that they know their stuff!
Jignesh’s family were originally known as Gandhis (of Mahatma Gandhi fame) – which literally means ‘grocer’ in Gujarati (one of the 28 languages spoken in India). The Gandhi family’s tryst with the foods industry can be traced as far back as the 16th century; Premji Makanji, a well-known businessman in those times was one of their ancestors. Later, in 1890, Jignesh’s grandfather, began a whole foods shop. His ethical business practices and impeccable product quality saw his business thrive and grow. His excellence earned the next generation of Gandhis the surname of Shah. The honorary suffix of ji (the Indian version of ‘Sir”!) that was later bestowed on the family, is testament to the family’s stature and success.
Vandana’s ancestry is similarly filled with experience and knowledge in the foods and health industry. Her grandfather, Ramniklal Shah was diagnosed with cancer at age 25, an ailment that was considered nearly 100% fatal at the time. This was a puzzling development in a tee-totaller given to healthy food habits. He moved from his home town in Gujarat to Kolkata, where he started treating himself via Homeopathy. He soon discovered, an absense of Magensium (a trace element in our nutrition) in his diet to be the culprit. He nursed himself back to health, and eventually lived to the ripe age of 84! He later brought this knowledge and experience to his native village, dispensing Homeopathic medicines . To this day, a free clinic runs in his name.
In 2002, armed with the knowledge of spices and healthy foods and its benefits on human health, the couple migrated to New Zealand. Upon scouting the market, they were shocked to see the lack of ethics and care in the way food stores were operating across Auckland.
It was this realisation that lead to them opening the first Shahji Spices shop – and that was only the beginning! As their business, passion and customer base grew, the Shah’s began the health division of their shop in 2010. With a passion for healthy living, a deep knowledge of the benefits of spices and a strong business ethic, Jignesh and Vandana are committed to changing the way food is bought, sold and packaged within the industry and eventually across New Zealand. Additionally, they are on the path to maximise impact by sharing their knowledge and raising awareness about holistic eating and its benefits on human health.