Mass Ave. zest: Manthan International Market spices up local food scene

By Victoria Lane


Are you looking for a way to combine your love for ethnic and international cuisine with the ingenuity and ease of access a farmer’s market offers?

Mass Ave’s newest family member and the latest addition to Indy’s growing local food scene, Manthan International Market, co-founded this year by Zach Rohn, Nathan Smith and Michael Blackwell is right up your alley.

Where did the idea for Manthan come from? It’s something the three of them wanted to see in Indy.


Photograph provided by Manthan International Market.

Zach spent time in the Caribbean as a chef and what he witnessed there inspired him to create a similar atmosphere in Indy. While in the Caribbean, he noticed that not only did the locals go the marketplace to get food, but it was also a place to catch up on gossip.

“In our culture, it’s an ‘extra’ to go a farmer’s market,” Zach said.

Zach and Nathan had previously worked together and Nathan knew Michael and the three of them decided [Manthan] would be a cool thing to have in Indy.

“Manthan” is Hindi for “churning of knowledge”.  In bringing Manthan International Market to Indianapolis, the trio is trying to expand knowledge about what other countries and cultures bring to the table.

While Zach says Indy definitely has diversity such as a large Burmese population on the Southside or the Ethiopian cuisine gaining momentum in Indy, it has few diverse food places spotting the city.

The trio wants Manthan International Market to be a vessel to bring people together and for when people to visit the Market to get out of the country for a bit somewhat similar to the atmosphere Chicago’s “Little Italy” or San Francisco’s “Chinatown.”

“To churn knowledge is to come to our market and churn about what’s in our community.  Indy is a city on the cusp of a lot of things.  It’s starting to be a food city.  Ten years ago this might not have worked as well as it is now – Indy is starting to blossom,” Zach said.

Citing a generally conducive atmosphere for the success of Manthan as well as the presence of multiple International festivals, see: Oktoberfest, Irish Fest, Asian Festival, the trio of Manthan want to see a more continuous presence of international food options.

“I think Indy’s ready to support this sort of endeavor,” Zach said.

Manthan International Market had three market dates on the last Saturdays of July, August and September. The scheduling of market dates has received ‘good reception’ thus far, leading the trio to want to continue the market throughout the year.

“Manthan came together beautifully, connecting hungry downtowners with the diverse foodscape that’s one short bike ride (or even shorter drive) away for most,“ says NUVO reporter Sarah Murrell in "Manthan Market Debuts on Mass Ave.”

Currently, the Manthan crew is searching for an indoor space for winter. Not only are they looking to create a permanent fixture within Indy, they are also looking for opportunities to host and be a part of ‘satellite events’ citing events like Oktoberfest in Germany or the Night Noodle Markets in Brisbane, Australia.

“We are looking to have a gathering of people from around the world and bring that to Indy,” Zach said.

One possible idea for a future event Zach shares is combining the concept of the Night Noodle Markets of Australia, which includes a spectacular paper lantern backdrop with the cuisine of the vibrant Asian population of Indy.

While Zach admits there are other groups and events with similar goals as Manthan in Indiana, such as the Lafayette International Marketplace Coalition which does work in the Lafayette Square Area, Manthan is 'very specifically’ focused on Indianapolis.

“We have a more city-wide approach. We want people to try different places. We want to be more of an advertisement,” Zach said.

While Manthan wants to bring people into their marketplace, they want people to leave the Market with a taste of what different cuisines and places can offer and use that to frequent different sorts of cuisine near them.

Though Zach, Michael and Nathan are the trio behind Manthan, Zach says they have six others working with them to make the Market possible along with countless volunteers.

“We learned a lot the first time [at July’s event], a lot of things went right and some things went wrong but we feel like we have gained a lot of momentum and we are excited.“

Manthan International Market is looking forward to seeing old vendors who have included, Sunny’s Chinese Kitchen, BARcelona Tapas, Santorini Greek Kitchen, Julia’s Homestyle & Caribbean Cuisine, Poccadio Grill, Lino’s Coffee & Gelato, Eduardo’s Filipino, Las Casas, Fountain Square Brewing Company, The Palms Catering, Essential Wellbeings, Tropical Foods & More, St. Athanasius Byzantine Church, Blue Dragon Lapidary Studio, Nigerien Gifts, and Global Gifts as well as new vendors joining in.

Looking for a way to get involved with Manthan?  Manthan International Market already has a significant amount of IUPUI student involvement by ways of volunteering.

Learn more and get involved with Manthan’s upcoming market dates by checking out their website and Facebook page: &

Photograph provided by Manthan International Market