There is a great Indian grocery store in Jacksonville that I discovered called Kalyaan Market. Friends have told me about other markets in Jacksonville but I found this one and it seems to be the biggest. All I know is that after my first visit there many months ago, I’ve been longing to go back but I was either broke or too far away.
Now that I’m working, literally day and night these days, money is finally starting to come in and my work brings me to Jacksonville ofter so finally it fit for me to go.
It’s always a thrill for me to be around other Indians. I have made friends with a woman living here who is from India but she grew up in South Africa so we can share about cuisine but not culture. But when I go to the Indian grocery, everyone there is Indian and I feel like an interloper but in a good way.
So since it isn’t often I get to go, I stocked up on things that I know I want along with things that I’m just curious about. I bought tumeric root. I use tumeric a lot in cooking and I know that that it is always better to grind your own spices than to purchase them in powder form. But, just to be safe I bought powdered tumeric too just in case. I also know that tumeric is loaded with health benefits. My ex told me that women in India rub it on their skin. I am not sure that will work for me, might get taken for jaundice. 😉
I bought coconut powder. I can’t seem to get enough coconut! It’s not that I cook with it that much, I’m just automatically attracted to it. This coconut powder is new to me and I’m not sure what I’ll do with it but perhaps I could make this recipe.
I got curry leaves with are wonderful. I noticed that my Indian friend (yes the same one from South Africa) used curry leaves in all her cooking and even traveled to Jacksonville just for them. So, I knew they had to be good.
I pondered over the fresh vegetables which as even more mysterious. Some I know, the green chilis, the small baby eggplant, the green mango, but then there are a whole bunch of other vegetables that I have no idea, just like with other Asian markets I’ve been to.
So after meandering around the store for the better part of an hour, with a full cart, I decided it was time to wrap it up. I asked the man working there to help me with a few things. I had several questions about different items I had seen. “What is jaggery?” I asked. I had seen it in the store and several recipes call for it but I had no idea what it was. Answer: basically cane sugar. I also found bag of roasted dahl and I asked him how you cook with it and come to find out, it is considered a ‘snack’.
Lastly I asked him what kind of flour to get for making chapati. He pauses, looks at me and asked “You know how to make chapati?” “Yes.” I answered. Still, he doesn’t move to show me the flour. A longer pause. “Who taught you to make chapati?” he asks. “My ex is from India, Chennai.” He is somewhat satisfied with my answer but not 100%. “South Indians don’t each much chapati.” he says. “Well maybe not,” I say “but I still learned.” and with that he shows me the flour. It was a funny moment because chapati is a unglamorous Indian food to make. My Indian friend doesn’t like to make chapati — “too much work” she says — but I like to make everything I can from scratch and I love breads.
With armfuls of groceries, I left the store well stocked with peppered pea snacks, mint chutney, green chilis, lots of dal and more to learn.