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At Saffron Valley, we're
about more than just the food.

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We believe in the power of storytelling, of giving our customers more than just a taste of a Dosa or Kebab– we want to transport you to India, show you the vibrancy of a culture that shaped our childhoods and ancestries.

We do it in small ways, the way we design our spaces or create our menus, but we go even further. Sometimes stories need more than just one vehicle, and we use our design, social media, and website to take these stories and bring them to life.

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Meet Lavanya Mahate

founder of Saffron Valley

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As a young girl of six, I used to watch my mom , with some help from Kanthama, our kitchen help, cook for our large extended family, every single day. Every day was a weekend kind of day, started out with an early trip to the local open air market around 8 am, much like today’s farmers market where Kanthama would purchase fresh vegetables, meats or seafood for whatever they were planning to cook that day.

Every day was a pageant of preparing fresh spice blends, chopping vegetables, cleaning meats and cooking under my mom's expert supervision.  Lunch and a dinner of curry plus sides and breads were prepared from scratch every single day.  And I would watch with a childish curiosity as the dishes journeyed from raw ingredients to fragrant meals.   for lunch and dinner. With her day’s bounty in a reusable bag, she would come back home and make fresh spice blends or masalas as we call them to be used in her cooking. 

Next she would prep the vegetables, clean the meats and get cooking under my mom’s expert supervision. By noon lunch was ready and the main dish or ‘curry’ for dinner was prepared as well. Sides for dinner would be prepared later in the evening. Cooking three times a day is pretty much the norm in India till today. TV Dinners are a foreign concept and frozen foods, just forget it! Food is meant to be prepared fresh and nourish not just your body but your mind and soul too. Holidays and festivals included special sweet and savory dishes that were particularly memorable and piqued my interest in cooking even more.  

I learned to cook my first dishes from Kanthama, including a sweet semolina pudding, rice kheer, how to make a basic spice blend from scratch and how to make a curry using that particular spice blend. I truly believe that these early childhood lessons in cooking ignited my passion for food. 

And well, 30 years later I find myself catapulted into the role of an owner/operator of restaurants that help me share this passion with other foodies. It was meant to be.

I spent much of my childhood in the Southern State of Andhra and moved to Tamil Nadu during my teenage years. So essentially, my style of cooking is rooted in Southern Indian style of cooking. However, I went to college in Pune, a city in the western state of Maharashtra which is where my love for street food in particular bloomed. Over the next few years I traveled the Northern parts of the country specifically Delhi where I dabbled in North Indian cooking as well. As a result, I have become attached to a variety of cuisines across India. My joy in cooking that I developed as a child expanded as I grew, traveled and experienced the variety of cuisines in India.  I realized that the regions and flavors and styles of cooking are so vastly different.  It was a delight and a personal culinary journey!

On moving to the United States in 2001, I was cooking for family and friends as a hobby who encouraged me to start a business in the food industry. At the time I was working for the Salt Lake Chamber as the Director or the Women’s Business Center helping other women and men start and grow their business. In 2010, I took the leap of faith,  when I quit my job and launched my own line of spice blends at the Downtown Farmer’s Market. Next came along my first restaurant, by name Saffron Valley, which  has grown into 3 locations - each unique by 2017.

The food served at each Saffron Valley location is representative of the breadth and variety of regional fare from the North, South, East and West of India and is its own journey through the country and culinary traditions that I love.

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OUR JOURNEY

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2001

Lavanya moved from Chennai, India to SLC, UT.

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2002 - 2010

Worked at the Salt Lake Chamber of commerce.

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2010

East India Pantry line of Spice Blends launched at SLC Farmers Market.

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2011

First Saffron Valley Indian Street Food Cafe in South Jordan, UT.

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2013

Saffron Valley East India Café opens in the Avenues, SLC, UT.

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2016

Biscotts Bakery & Cafe and Dhanya Spices & Groceries open in South Jordan, UT.

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2017

3rd Saffron Valley restaurant opens in Sugar House, SLC, UT.

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2018

Saffron Kitchen is established as a 501c3. 

Saffron Valley opens a satellite location on UofU campus.

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AND BEYOND...

Bring Indian food to mainstream.

Give back to the community.

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