Tuesday, August 17, 2004


Indian Grocer!

I just got this new cookbook, From Curries to Kebabs, and it's far superior to the other Indian-type Cuisine cookbook I have. At least, it's a lot more user friendly. Indian cooking can be pretty intimidating, mainly because there's a lot of different--or should I say "exotic"?--spices involved. I'm both intrigued and scared of these spices, although I already use a lot of them (cumin, clove, nutmeg) in my everyday baking.

There are a number of places in Portland to buy spices. There's the old standby, Limbo, which has pretty much everything you could ever want in bulk. But I wanted to see if there were any Indian Grocers in Portland. I know that there are tons of Oriental/Korean/Thai/Japanese grocery stores around, and chances are that they would have anything I wanted. But, I wanted adventure the most.

I did a Google search: Indian Grocer Portland. I got to this site, and discovered that there are two Indian grocers up on Interstate Ave. I went to Pooja International, which is half convienence stote, half Indian grocer, in a space about the size of my living room.

When I walked in there was an older Indian gentleman, around 65, and a younger one, in his thirties. They both kind of jumped when I walked in, heading towards the cigarette counter. I said, "I'm here to buy some spices." They seemed excited by that. The older guy came over and helped me find the things I was looking for. Amchoor, which is a dried mango powder, whole cloves, paprika (now I have a giant jar of paprika, if you ever run out), garam masala, dried hot chilis. They didn't have any powdered cayenne, but they did have (and this is the exciting part) New Zealand Lamb shoulders, in a big freezer. They also had goat, which I was excited about. One day I'll make some goat.

The younger guy asked me all these questions: Had I made lamb before? (Oh, yes!) Had I made lamb shoulder before? (Oh, no!) Did I have good recipes? (I think so!) What was I going to marinate the lamb in? (Garlic, ginger, yogurt,etc.) For how long? (Around twenty hours.) How was I going to cook it? (On the grill!) I asked him if he had any tips, and he said, marinate for a long, long time. I told him that I was excited to find his store (on the internet, I said), and that I'd definitely be back soon. He told me to call the store if I had any problems while cooking. Awesome!

Amidst all of the excitement, I forgot to get cumin and cayenne. So, after dropping stuff of at home, I went on over to Limbo, and bought the rest of my spices, and a few nice spice jars to keep them in. I came home and made my own Garam Masala and Chaat Masala (both for tomorrow's lamb kebabs), and started draining the yogurt.

I spent a lot of money on spices today, but I know that I probably won't have to buy any again for about another year, or even more. I still need a couple more spices to complete my collection, including corriander and saffron. When I start to get the hang of this Indian cooking thing, I'm going to throw a giant dinner party with all sorts of yummy foods, and I'll be sure to invite you!

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