The scent of toasted cashews wafts into the streets and ornate Persian silverwork adorns a shop brimming with baskets of colourful flavours. But, this isn’t a bazaar in the middle east, this is Coquitlam. Step inside Ayoub’s Dried Fruits & Nuts here or in several locations across Metro Vancouver to sample the roasting traditions and ambiance that embrace the shop’s origins in Iran.“In the middle east, there are nut stores on every corner, people are used to them. But here, we had to build a culture,” said Amir Hosseini, owner of Ayoub’s Dried Fruits & Nuts.Amir’s father, Ayoub himself, opened a small roasting store in Iran. The country is completely saturated with toasted nuts shops, so it’s a tough market to crack. Ayoub worked at crafting distinct recipes and mixes, and people went nuts! Soon, he had a million dollar business shipping all over the region.Lucky for us, Ayoub brought his famous recipes with him when his family moved to Canada in 2004. Lime saffron, slightly salted, or lime and pepper: Ayoub’s nuts have won over crowds near and far. Why? Because of their obsession with flavour. “We source products from where they grow best. If almonds are grown best in California, we bring those in. Our fruit, too. Indian mangos have the best flavour so that’s what we want customers to have,” says Amir.Their dried fruits and vegetables are also the best the world has to offer. That’s why you’ll find apples, cherries, and some cranberries from BC’s Okanagan Valley in the store. Ayoub’s doesn’t just give out samples — they highly recommend them. Since every batch is hand roasted, every day the taste is different. You might love one blend of cashews today, and another tomorrow and that’s OK. Try them all!
Each location has a chef. Like the store’s decor, roasting sticks to tradition using an “old school” machine.
Ayoub’s nuts are dry roasted in small batches to ensure a consistently delicious flavour. “It’s like coffee roasting, we do small batches…they’re roasted daily in every store. It doesn’t get fresher than that,” says Amir.
Amir personally trains the chefs himself. Like cooking, toasting basics can be learned in a few months but mastery takes years.
Amir shared his three considerations for getting roasting just right:
- The heat. Toast the cashews as the machine heats up, and end with seeds when it’s at its hottest point.
- The rotation speed of the roaster to ensure they brown evenly.
- The scent and colour of the nuts in the roaster, not their taste.
Nuts fresh from the roaster sounds like flavour perfection, but it isn’t actually a good indication of how they’ll taste once cooled. Chefs learn to recognize readiness by scent and sight, and leave sampling for later.Once you’ve experienced roasted nuts this fresh, you may never go back. Grocery store products can be months old. Their sourcing process from raw to roaster to distributer to store takes time. Ayoub’s nuts arrive fresh from the farmer at their facility, where they’re kept raw at the perfect temperature. Small boxes are sent out to each store and get toasted on site daily. It just doesn’t get fresher than this.
Ayoub’s Coquitlam store chef rolls up the fruit leather. If you’re looking to treat yourself or others, Ayoub’s Dried Fruits & Nuts has many seasonal and specialty products from the Middle East.
Try rose petal Turkish Delights, saffron cotton candy, and sweet, nutty Lebanese baklava.
If their roasted almonds and pistachios don’t draw you in, the giant artistic goblet bins or dazzling chandeliers will.This shop is located in Coquitlam’s City Centre, within walking distance from Coquitlam Centre and from Lincoln Skytrain Station on the Evergreen Extension. For locations in Coquitlam, Vancouver, Vancouver’s North Shore and Burnaby, check out www.ayoubs.ca.