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Adding more spice to Woodbury

Abdul Razaq shows off his favorite cut of goat meat, the shoulder. He started working as the Spice Bazaar a few months ago when the store opened a halal meat shop nearby. "I never dreamed I'd be a butcher man," Razaq said. Youssef Rddad / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
Spice Bazaar owner Jolly Xavier shows off a heavy stone pot used for cooking stews and other dishes. Xavier moved to Cottage Grove in the early 2000s with his family after decades working in the Indian film industry. Youssef Rddad / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 3
The Jolly family and friends recently expanded their store, the Spice Bazaar, after opening a halal meat shop in May. Jolly Xavier (left) and his wife Shiny Jolly pose for a photo along with Akil Jolly and son-in-law Mathew Thachil. Youssef Rddad / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

After a family-owned grocery on Woodbury's west side opened two years ago, owners at the Spice Bazaar recently opened a butcher shop that sells everything from goat and lamb to free-range chickens.

Located in the same strip mall as the international grocery store, the Spice Bazaar's owners said the decision to open Spice Bazaar - Halal Meats came largely from customers' requests for fresh meats. But the market didn't have the space to meet the request.

Muslim clientele also expressed a desire for halal meat because of the lack of options in the east metro, which is meat and other products that adhere to Islamic law.

"It's a necessity for them," said co-owner Matthew Thachil. "Otherwise they have to go all the way to Minneapolis to find it."

Display cases lined with cuts of lamb and goat, chicken and organ meat can be cut to any size.

The shop also serves ready-to-cook items like pepper chicken and chicken tikka, a popular Indian and Pakistani dish that's marinated in spices and yogurt.

"People don't want to waste time with cooking because nobody has time," Thachil said.

A small freezer section also carries items like whole sardines and meat and rice dishes like chicken biryani, a spicy mixed rice dish.

The meat is locally sourced from a free-range and antibiotic-free farm in Rochester.

The back of the shop has a variety of meat cutting machines a butcher's stations, a walk-in cooler and a freezer filled from the floor to the ceiling with cases of shaved coconut.

"They're good for thickening curry," said Spice Bazaar owner Akil Jolly of the coconut shavings. "But people use them for a lot of things."

Though the Spice Bazaar and meat shop cater heavily to the area's South Asian population, Jolly said customers come from all over.

The owners — the Jolly family who live in Hastings and Cottage Grove, along with friends Najeeb V and Vishal Reddy — all hail from three distinct Indian provinces.

A wall inside the meat shop holds a framed verse from the Quran next to an image of Jesus Christ.

"We don't have the third yet," Jolly said, adding that he's waiting for his other partner, who is Hindu, to contribute to the wall.

The Spice Bazaar - Halal Meats is located at 1580 Woodlane Drive.

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