Harwinder Singh, known to everyone as Harry, runs Sam’s Market, a convenience store in the middle of Joshua Tree. His family also owns a seriously excellent Indian restaurant next door, which was originally a pizza and burger joint; they still sell pizza and burgers alongside Indian food. Harry moved to Joshua Tree with his family from Punjab in northern India when he was ten. His dad had already been in the US for a few years, and had bought the store before the family came.
Someplace: Do you know why your dad chose Joshua Tree?
Harry: I guess at first because small towns are better; he preferred them to big towns. And the store was for sale. Then slowly we bought next door, and we opened up as a pizza place. It was just sitting there, nobody was making pizzas or anything. We started off with two guys; the guy who used to work there trained us to make pizza. Then we decided to add Indian food. We started with a couple of small dishes, and everybody liked it; they loved the Indian food, and they wanted more. We used to make just Chana Masala, but they wanted different types. So then we started with a whole menu. We had pizzas and Indian food, and slowly it picked up. Everybody started coming, everybody loved it.
Someplace: Was your mom professionally trained as a cook?
Harry: No, but back in India, my mom cooked all the time, so she knew all the good recipes. First we were making naans in the oven, but it didn’t taste that good. Then we brought in a tandoori oven, and we started doing it in the tandoori oven. Now it’s perfect, the bread comes out amazing. And then we combined the pizza and the Indian food, so now we have Indian pizza. Curry sauce pizza. That was a good idea, everybody likes that.
Someplace: Do you sell more Indian food than pizza?
Harry: Oh yeah, big time. But we make everything from scratch, we make our own pizza sauce, we don’t order in. We make everything fresh, and we have secret ingredients.