Taj Mahal Grocers

Pramod and Renuka Shah ran the popular Taj Mahal Imports grocery store in Richardson from 1983 to 2017. The Shahs’ interviews for “Digging In: How Food, Culture, and Class Shape the Story of Asian Dallas” were fascinating, revealing the ways that the store was important to the Indian community in Dallas, but also was a bridge for other Dallasites to learn about Indian food and culture.

The Shahs remember reaching out to their first customers by combing through the White Pages looking for common Indian names. The store’s size and reach grew quickly, with customers coming from as far away as Waco and Lubbock. At one point, Taj Mahal Imports was the largest Indian grocery store in the US, stocking all the essentials for Indian cooking, but also VHS tapes of the latest popular movies from India, Indian cooking utensils, soaps, shampoos, and even costume jewelry.

As the Indian population in Dallas grew, the store became a hub for the community, with a “networking wall” and an effort to share Indian culture through cooking classes, a chaat corner with Indian snacks, and programming around important Indian festivals like Diwali. Indeed, the huge rangoli (sand art) displays at the Taj Mahal during Diwali were anticipated by Indians and non-Indians in Dallas alike. Renuka Shah recounts that “the children would bring their next door neighbors' children, their friends and stuff, no matter they are white Americans or whoever they are or...Asian or whoever, they'll all come and see.”

Those rangoli exhibits were built around themes, ranging from traditional Indian imagery of Ganesha to a tribute to first responders after 9/11 to a celebration of the life of Indian-American astronaut Kalpana Chawla.

The Shahs also helped found the Cowboy Carrom Association, bringing together enthusiasts of the Indian table game to compete in tournaments and to organize and achieve a record for Longest Carrom Game (33 hours) in the Guinness Book of World Records!


The interviews with Pramod and Renuka Shah are part of the project, “Digging In: How Food, Culture, and Class Shape the Story of Asian Dallas” and will be archived at Baylor University Institute for Oral History. The Shah’s papers and artifacts, including beautiful photos of rangoli displays at Taj Mahal Imports will be archived at the Dallas Public Library’s downtown branch. Selections from the Shah’s interviews, as well as their photograph, shot by Thanin Viriyaki at the site of the old Taj Mahal store in the Richardson Heights shopping center, are also featured in the library’s Digital Wall. The project is possible thanks to an ACLS/Mellon Community College Faculty Fellowship.

Taj Mahal Grocers