New Hampshire’s Ethnic Food Markets: Keene International Market

All Bellies Welcome
Keene International Market

Chuda Mishra and Jennifer Carroll, co-owners of the Keene International Market, offer several food items, fashions, art work and cookbooks from around the world in one place.

As New Hampshire’s diversity grows with an influx of new residents from all over the world, ethnic food markets located in different parts of the state are meeting the demand to give them a taste of home and an open invitation for everyone to discover new dishes.

Four of these markets located in Manchester, Concord, Rochester and Keene provide daily sustenance to their shoppers by offering ingredients they cannot find anywhere else.

The success of Keene International Market has been a labor of love.

Co-owner Chuda Mishra was born in Bhutan, South Asia, and grew up a refugee in Nepal. He met New Hampshire native and co-owner Jennifer Carroll in Laconia while she was helping refugee families.

After settling in Keene, the two noticed the lack of Nepalese food locally. They began with an online store and pickup location in Keene in 2020 and opened their market four months later.

“Our goal was to help our customers feel like they could find a piece of their original home,” they both say.

With the tagline “All bellies welcome,” Keene International Market offers more than 2,000 items from more than 30 countries: snacks, drinks, noodles, houseware, even Japanese anime stickers. They also sell international candies, potato chips with exotic flavors — prawn, shamrock and sour cream, Indian masala and roasted lamb — and keep a steady supply of Thai, Korean, and Nepalese noodles.

They say Filipino customers prefer Japanese age ichiban (rice cracker snack) and Guatemalans savor Korean lobster-flavored ramen bowls.

Residents are taking notice.

“One young FIlipino woman who was in shopping with her mom put it succinctly, ‘Your store is not just a great place for us to buy Filipino food; what you are doing is validating our presence in this region. It feels important,’” says Jenna.

Just as Chuda and Jennifer found common ground, customers are making connections too. Shoppers seeking comfort food might leave with items from other countries, or share recipes.

Local products line the shelves, like Syrian baklava from Aissa Sweets in Concord; Finnish nisu (cardamom bread) from Finnish Mama in Fitzwilliam; alfajores (Latin American shortbread cookies) from Keene Cookie Company, and international extracts from Sweetwater Co. in Gilsum.

Keene international market Overview

Besides traveling to Boston, NYC and New Jersey for products, Chuda finds Indian curries at Kay’s Curries in Massachusetts, and Dosa batter from Dosa Kitchen in Brattleboro, Vermont.

“He knows he’s fulfilling a need in the community,” Jennifer says of Chuda’s work.

Their market has become a lifeline for residents who are miles away from their homeland.

“Baby bok choy and Indian okra, for example, are staples in many people’s weekly diets. That is important,” Chuda says.

“Chatpate is a great summer recipe. We often bring it to potlucks and dinner parties etc. This easy-to-make crunchy salad has dry instant noodles, veggies, puffed rice, and potatoes. Nepalese instant noodles tend to have a bit of spice in the noodle itself so the flavor is great, Chuda says.

This article is featured in the fall 2023 issue of 603 Diversity.603 Diversity Fall 2023

603 Diversity’s mission is to educate readers of all backgrounds about the exciting accomplishments and cultural contributions of the state’s diverse communities, as well as the challenges faced and support needed by those communities to continue to grow and thrive in the Granite State.

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Categories: 603 Diversity, Food & Drink