Saturday, 8 September 2007
Indian Grocery Shopping
Yesterday I went shopping for Indian groceries with my mate Beth. We had lunch at Bharat International, at 1/17 Oatley Court, Belconnen, next door to Ruchi. It's just a corner of laminex tables in the huge grocery store; the service style is all plastic plates and pick your food up from the counter. But what food! We had dhal makhani, mattar paneer, and rice, with pooris the size of footballs, and thick mango lassi. We were well stuffed for $10 each, and determined to go back and sample more. The curries were wonderfully tasty - the paneer notably fresh, the spices lively.
After lunch we prowled the aisles, and I picked up lots of odds and ends. There's a truly enormous selection of rices, flours, spices, chutneys, pre-pack curries and much more. If you want himalayan black salt, red rice, lentil or chickpea flour, any kind of curry paste, you'll find it here. There's a fascinating freezer section full of vegetables I've never heard of before: green kidney beans; "drumsticks"; purple yam, fenugreek greens. I'm definitely going to try some of these when I get the freezer empty enough. And then there's the sweet counter for your fresh made jalebis, gulab jamons, barfis and other mysterious goodies. Do you need an idli pan, or a gas tandoor? How about some Holi colours, a Krishna statuette, incense and sandalwood soap? It's all there - it's a real treasure trove.
In the same part of town but a short drive round a couple of corners, there's another Indian shop - the Exotic Spice Centre at 1 Rae St Belconnen. Half the shop is devoted to their range of Bollywood and other Indian CDs and DVDs; the other half is groceries. There is an overlap between these two places, of course - both have halal meat in the freezer, and similar spices, pulses and condiments. Apart from the video store setup, the Exotic Spice Centre is also differentiated from Bharat by its very strong Fijian focus - frozen reef fish, taro, corned beef and mutton, Fijian cosmetics and so on. There's a good range of snacky foods - spicy peas, bhuja mix variants. And they had cocoa beans! I had to buy some, even though I have no idea what to do with them.
Both places are well worth a visit, though I am a bit more taken with Bharat for the sheer size of the grocery range, and the diner food.
The rest of the day involved more eating out - afternoon tea, or rather, chocolate, at Koko Black; dinner and blues band at the old Canberra Inn. I'll write about these places another time. (Hint: I like them.) Meanwhile it's time to get dolled up for Amanda & Chas' wedding...
Cooking today: Nothing again. Lunch at Satis, dinner at wedding reception in Ainslie.