Welcome to the third installment of my series “10 Things to Buy at…”! This week, we’ll be exploring both practical and exotic finds at your local indian market!
Even if you’ve never made indian food before, an indian market has much to offer! Depending upon it’s size, many indian markets do carry fresh produce and, like many ethnic markets the produce is generally less expensive than your local market. But even if your local indian market is small and only carries “shelf stable” items, it is still worth your time to visit!
So let’s get right to it .. my 10 Things to Buy at the indian market!
1. Beans and lentils – Indian markets has some of the widest selections of lentils and beans of any ethnic grocery store. Chole (chickpeas), masoor dal (red lentils), mung dal (yellow split mung beans) and toor dal (yellow lentils) are some of the many varieties you can find at an indian grocery store and often at prices substantially below your local market.
2. Flours and Rice – although you can buy basmati rice at most grocery stores, you will find fresher and less expensive rice here. Flours are also another ingredient I often buy here including Besan (chickpea flour), Chawal ka atta (rice flour), Sooji (semolina) and Atta (chapati flour).
3. Ghee (clarified butter) – although it’s very easy to make clarified butter at home, you can also purchase it at the indian market. One advantage of buying ghee is that it is shelf stable and ready to use!
4. Jaggery – made from sugar cane juice, jaggery has a deeper and richer flavor than brown sugar. Sold in solid blocks or chunks, you can grate it or simply shave it with a knife.
5. Herbs and Spices – definitely the motherlode of spices, indian grocery stores are one of the best places to find inexpensive spices. You can find just about any spice from Allspice to Turmeric – both whole and ground as well as a number of pre mixed spice blends including tandoori, garam masala and chaat masala.Garam masala is one of my favorites and I use it in a number of dishes including this One pan Indian Coconut Chicken Curry or in this Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry . You can also find somewhat unusual spices that you won’t find in most grocery stores – things like black salt, mango powder, dried mint and fenugreek.
6. Chutneys – yes, there are more varieties of chutney than Major Grey’s Mango chutney – mint and coriander, tamarind date and tomato carrot are three of the more popular varieties but there is a huge variety of chutneys made with fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. Most chutneys are quite easy to make, like my Tomato Chutney but ready made versions are definite time savers when you are putting together an indian feast like these Samosas with Mint Chutney.
7. Pickles – these are not the usual dill pickles but include all types of ingredients including limes, mangoes, carrots, onions and even shrimp. No meal in India is complete without them and they add an amazing dimension to any meal. Like chutneys, most are quite easy to make on your own, but it’s fun to try different ones and again ready made versions are time savers when you are putting together an indian feast!
8. Breads – chapati, naan, paratha, poori and roti are just some of the many varieties of Indian breads. While many of these are very easy to make, they are even easier to buy ready made – some are sold fresh and some are sold frozen, ready to be finished at home.
9. Sev and Churmura – used primarily in Chaat (snacks) sev (thin chickpea noodles) and Churmura (puffed rice) add texture and crunch to a variety of dishes. Since they are both gluten free, both make wonderful toppings for both snacks and salads like my Superbowl Snack Mix.
10. Paneer and yogurt – paneer is a fresh cheese with a firm texture that can be sauteed or fried and because of it’s mild flavor, can be used in any number of dishes.
So there you have it – 10 wonderful finds at your local indian market!