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.


Anonymous said...

Hi Cath,
Your comments are really nice and yes it is really one heck of an Indian store, but i wouldn't be too sure about the food.I doubt the hygenic condition.

Best is, get the raw materials from there and cook at home.With little bit of googling and research and with help of ultra-modern ready-made curry paste and spices you can cook even better than the restaurant.

Sorry if I am being critical about the hygine.


Jennifer said...

Hey, thanks for this... I was trying to find the address for the Indian shop next to Rushi, and didn't know about the other one... cheers!

bulanjdjan said...

Thanks for this post! Am new to Canberra from Melbourne and desperately seeking good Indian groceries! Google led me to you.

sunil said...

hi there tnx u for this....v r moving to canberra by july and i was really worried bout our food as my family is pure veggies...i was looking whether indian grocery stores or indian resturants r there in canberra google led me to this...v 'l b staying in hotel for few days b4 renting a place...can u just suggest indian resturants as my 4 yr old son is very particular bout food
thank u in advance
sunil (

eLFie said...

Hi all, I've come in a little late. Moved to Canberra in August. Sunil, for good sub-continental cuisine, I'd try the Taj Agra. There's one at Belconnen and another at Dickson. Actually, I got directions to Bharat International from the friendly guys at Dickson. I just found the other store on this blog. Am thrilled! Usually frequent Indian shops for the desserts. My partner, an Iranian, can't live without them. Thank you Cath =)

Shemeema said...


My name is Shemeema. I am registered nurse Div 1 and been sponsored by the NSW health to wrok in Queanbeyan Distirct Health Services. Me and My husband is going to move to Queanbeyan on 06/10/09. I am really worried about my accomadation. If I applied by realestate I have to see the property and right now I in Melbourne and obviously it is not possible. So, could any please help me to get any accomadation like rent or sharing for one month. I am happy to pay $250per week. My mail ID is

Anonymous said...

This is an Indian Grocery Store forum and you're asking for accommodation ???

Anyways, try I found mine there :)

Good luck !!!

Anonymous said...

Hi All,
I have just moved to Canberra from overseas...... I researched the shops you all have mentioned...... I was happy at Bharat International, they have a wide variety of foods & the take-a-way or eat in food is so very nice... I've also discovered that on Saturday mornings Bharats do Fresh Roti's & Methi Roti/Thepla.

Janak Patel

Jessica said...

Hey!Thanks for sharing the info about Bharat International, at 1/17 Oatley Court, Belconnen.Well,I have been looking for Indian spices that are being used for all non-veg recipes.Do U have any idea about online shopping sites on Indian Groceries Melbourne has?

food junkie said...

hi there.... i m a fan of indian food... i just wnt to know the name of the owner of bharat international.. if any one can help me out with the name...
thanks in advance

Anonymous said...

Hi Guys,

Not sure if you have checked out . They are right on the opposite court of Bharat International.

They have a good variety of spices which are not expired and very easy to deal with.

Ask any local canberra indian about Bharat International, they will give you the insights.

My 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

Not sure that Bharat is all that Cath made it out to be. Cath, sounds you like Indian food so much, perhaps you should cultivate Indian friends who can give you home-cooked recipes as these are always the best. Bharat's food is oily and not the best Indian around.


sheryl said...

If it is the same shop down the near the Gym, it still looks messy and old in there, plus there are no prices on the shelves, some of the spices are old.

I think there is now a spice shop at the Belconnen Markets? Has anyone been there?
sheryl Macgregor

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