Today I rediscovered the Gandhi Bazar, an Indian grocery store I frequented ten years ago, when we lived in an appartment nearby. (For Austinites, it’s on the corner of Brodie and William Cannon, catty-corner to HEB.) I love going to Asian grocery stores–they smell wonderful and everything is strange, except for the occasional item we used to have in Australia, like the proper Ovaltine or rusk. Such is the Commonwealth.
I had heard something on NPR (National Public Radio) the other day about curry leaves, and how lots of Indian meals start with frying some garlic, ginger and a few curry leaves, and how they give off a delicious aroma, so I walked in thinking I’d just buy some curry leaves.
That’s never how it works, though. I bought curry leaves, and then I saw star anise, and jackfruit chips and garam masala and other spices they don’t have at HEB, and sandalwood incense, and… and Ovaltine! By the time I had gone through all the aisles I had a basket full and I didn’t even buy a bar of Cadbury’s chocolate. When I was looking in the chips (for lack of a better word) aisle, I half hoped to find jalebis, but no. Then, at the counter, after I had already paid for everything, there they were, so I bought a few for T, R and me to taste at home. (If you haven’t seen the movie Lion yet, you must. I have seen it three times, and every time adult Saroo–played by Dev Patel–sees jalebis again for the first time since he was five, and takes a bite of one probably for the first time in his life, I just lose it.)
I opened one of the bags of “chips” on the way home, because I was just too curious to wait. According to the packet it contains spiced rice flakes with cashews. That’s an understatement. I must try and remember that life’s too short for potato chips or tortilla chips when I can have this kind of party in my mouth! Also, it’s spicy enough for me not to want to eat a lot of it at once.
The spices I bought came in plastic bags, so at home I had to empty out the two remaining glass jars of Indonesian spices I bought before emigrating, twenty-three years ago. They were untouched because they’re not the kind I generally use. At the time I felt I had to buy every spice I could lay my hands on, in case I ever needed it for an Indonesian recipe, because I wouldn’t be able to get them in the Rio Grande Valley. Anyway, the last holdouts–the goela djawa and the kemiri nuts–have now finally been dumped.
And we had an Indian-inspired vegetable stir-fry and tilapia for dinner. I was about to use the mustard oil that I had also bought at the Gandhi Bazar–one can never have too many types of cooking oil–when, just to be sure, I looked on the label on the back to see if it was suitable for cooking or if it was more for salads and such. Turns out it was for external use only!