Yesterday, after school and hanging out with friends, we went to an Indian grocery store. Here is my quick narrative.
Upon walking in, there were shelves and shelves of lentils and beans, some of which I recognized. As we walked onward, taking our time, there were a few shelves of amaranth and peanut balls, made with jaggery, or molasses, and similar balls made with puffed rice. There were starchy-looking translucent cubes of various sizes, some tiny and others large. I asked my mom what they were, and she said it was sugar. We made our way onto the sugar-coated fennel seeds. I remember eating these at a different Indian grocery when I was younger. Then we found some rose water. I know this is used for Indian cooking, but I have yet to try it. Adjacent to the rose water were bottled fruit juices, unrefrigerated. We turned and found pappadums. We’d had these many times before with channa masala for dinner, and they are delicious!!! They are smallish, thin, papery pieces that you fry in oil. The pappadums we bought were made of urid flour and rice flour. In a refrigerator there were desserts and juices. Mango juice, papaya juice, and best of all, lychee juice. I LOVE LYCHEE. Further on, we found a rich supply of incenses and statues of Ganesha. Since we already have incense at home, we moved towards the produce. There was methi, ginger, a giant white root of some kind (not a parsnip or anything), chili peppers, fresh coriander, or cilantro, spinach, potatoes, eggplant, and unripe, green bananas. Next to the produce were frozen goods including frozen methi and lotus root. (I have to try lotus root; I have now seen it twice in two different stores.) There was ice cream, but they called it something else, with pistachios, and samosas. To the right of that was about 5 shelves of Indian shampoos, soaps, and lotions. I recalled having a spectacular shampoo bought from an Indian grocery, but I couldn’t find it there. There were more and more shelves of things like tamarind, drink mixes, and spices. We picked up a dessert called karachi halwa, almond jelly, with cashews and almonds. Indian desserts are very interesting. They aren’t too sweet, and you can taste the coriander and spices that they use in saag paneer and channa masala and other foods. We checked out, in the end buying:
- karachi halwa
- turmeric powder
- ginger powder
- baby eggplant
- frozen methi
- a large container of dates (we love dates)
- golden raisins
- salted fennel seeds (mmm!)
- dal lentils
- lychee juice
- mango juice
- peanut laddoo (the amaranth peanut balls)
It’s an invigorating experience to shop in a specialty store like that, with all kinds of unusual and exciting foods. My advice to the shopper who goes to the same place every time you shop for groceries: Go to an Indian grocery. Trust me — you definitely won’t regret it!
The Scribbling Pixie’s Fantastic Idea
Try 6 new foods in the next week, no matter how strange or weird they look! And don’t go to your regular store to buy them. Look for a specialty store!
Photo credit: myhawaiitraveller.com
Left to right: salted fennel seeds, dates and mint leaves, karachi halwa, channa masale with white rice.
An India postcard that I made with a picture of fennel seeds.