As the blogger for Spices and Seasons, I do most of my spice and supply shopping right here, and, being the local girl that I am, I feel bad when people tell me how they make special day trips to NYC for spice shopping. Now, do not get me wrong, I do that maybe once in a while, but for the basics I stick to my local stores.
So this month, I am doing something different. At the request of various students and others. I am doing a mini masala crawl around Westchester.
If you are wondering what the #minimasala crawl is, I am not surprised, because I just made that one up! Masala means spice mixture in Indian cooking.
I will not be covering every spice store there is, and since there are not tons of them, I am calling this a #minimasala crawl. If you are on instagram, do check me out, I will be sharing some of the stops and observations. you have an ethnic grocery store that you are partial to, please do let me know in the comments, I would love to hear about it.
So, this is what I am looking for, is pretty basic, I am looking for essential Indian spices, cumin, coriander, well, I think you have seen my recipes over the past year, it is mostly spices that I use for essential cooking. Also, looking for lentils and basmati rice. Other things, are a bonus, but as I said before, everyday stuff that will keep me from spending the day heading out to the city.
So, my first store was Shiraz Grocery Store, a mid-eastern grocery store affiliated with the lovely Persian restaurant. The first thing, I will tell you is that I do love the food there, so it anyway makes me partial to the store.
The store has a lot of interesting items outside of spices, such as dried fruit (a really nice assortment), nuts, oils and candy, making this a good stop where I often like to bring my friends.
Ok, so, you might thing I am glossing over the spice part, well, they have a very respectable selection of spices, I usually find most things I am looking for. What, I love is that they are usually very well packaged.
They also have a whole load of pre-made Middle Eastern seasonings, dried herbs, such as mint and chives. Yes, but they do not carry things like fresh cilantro, ginger and certain things that are essential. Also, their labeling of certain spices might take a little getting used to.
They carry Basmati rice, in fact, that is the only variety of rice that they carry and they have a good assortment of brands. They have other grains such as bulgur and carry them in various varieties, such as finely ground, coarse, etc.
Yes, they have lentils, a good selection but not as exhaustive as I would like to see.
However, what I like about their lentils is that they do have dried beans in loose containers, so you can try small or large amounts of lentils or beans as needed. Beyond, food items they have loads of plates, jars and lots of pastry, baklava and candy, I find them a great spot for an unusual hostess gift.
So, the question is, if this was the only spice store in the country, would I have to get to other non-local sources to supplement? The answer really is more frequently, than I do now, but I would get by. And, while I was researching them, I picked up some dates for this weeks recipe.
So, stay tuned and follow #minimasala to see where else I stop and do let me know, where you get your spices in the county.
83 East Main St
They are open most days of the week from 10 am to 8pm.