I am originally from India. Most people I meet tell me that they LOVE Indian food but are too afraid to try cooking it at home. Indian curries and all the spices that go into them can be overwhelming. It is important to know that Indian cuisine is a delicious combination of simple as well as complex dishes. Everyday dishes like lentil soups (typically eaten with rice or whole wheat flat bread), or stir fry vegetables need just a handful of ingredients to prepare. On the other hand, fancy meat curry recipes could call for up to 10-15 ingredients to get the job done. Add to that the complexity of spices with unfamiliar names… and it is easy to scare off the most determined of home cooks.
So, where do you start? Where do you go for all the spices that the recipe calls for? Happily, the answer lies in a wonderful Indian grocery store in Norwalk called Patel Brothers.
A bright, spacious, well organized grocery store with isle after isle of well marked shelves bursting with all kinds of ingredients. You name it and they have it! And if they don’t – chances are that they can get it for you. Every time I walk in there, I feel like a kid in a candy store. All the food items bring back happy memories of my childhood in India and I find myself fighting the urge to buy one of everything. 🙂
Rice and chapatti (whole wheat flat bread) is the staple of every Indian kitchen. So you will be surprised to see giant bags of those. Would you like 15lb bag of basmati rice? 🙂 I like to buy my whole spices in bulk from here. For instance, it is so much easier and cheaper to buy a big bag of black peppercorns and use it to refill my peppermill at home, as often as I need to. Looking for unsalted and shelled pistachios for a dessert recipe? Patel Brothers has them.
For those who wish to take baby steps when it comes to eating Indian at home, I want you to know that Patel Brothers carries many dry spice mixtures as well as prepared and frozen food packets. Shaan, Swad and MTR are well known brands and therefore a safe bet.
It is easy to buy a Tandoori spice mix, blend it with yogurt, fresh ginger and garlic. Add fresh skinless chicken to this mixture. Marinate your chicken for 8 hours or so and then throw it on the BBQ or in your oven. Voila! You have Tandoori chicken!!!
Or take “Sambhar Powder” mixture and cook it with your yellow split pea lentil and water. Add some onions, garlic, ginger and salt to taste. What you get is Sambhar (or lentil soup) that is served with Masala Dosa in restaurants. This lentil soup can also be enjoyed with basmati rice.
Since all the cuisines of the world have interesting crossovers of cooking ingredients – it is fascinating to see people of many different cultures frequenting Patel Brothers. I overhear shoppers fussing over various ingredients in their native languages and I wonder what yummy creations they will prepare when they get home.
The new American cuisine that most new restaurants are adopting these days – tends to marry flavors from all over the world. The lines between ethnicities and cultures are blurring and places like Patel Brothers are the answer to all. Here you will find unusual vegetables like bitter gourd, ivy gourd and even coveted delicacies like fresh lychees and mangoes when they are in season. Ever tried fresh lychees with French vanilla ice cream? It is to die for! You HAVE to try fresh mangoes from an Indian grocery store. They are delicious! Nothing like the ones you get in the everyday supermarket. These have intense sweetness and flavor. And while you are at it, pick up a bottle of Maaza Mango Juice. Blend it with yogurt and crushed ice to make delicious mango lassi. Or use it to experiment with in your cocktails and desserts.
My absolute MUST every time I visit is the small green chillies. I love them and I must have them. I add them in most things I cook. They go great in my omelets, in curries, in frittatas…you name it.
Haldiram brand makes delicious snacks that are enjoyed with tea or even alcohol in India. If you are a tea drinker, I suggest you try the Tetley cardamom tea. So delicous with wonderful and smooth cardamom notes.
Hope you visit this delightful grocery store. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about ingredients you are looking for.
And if there is any interest in some basic home-style Indian recipes, I will be happy to write some blog posts about it. Do let me know….
I wish you all flavorful experimenting!