Friday, July 9, 2010

Market Day: Singh Farm, Indian Groceries

     Eggplant

While doing the banking one day last autumn I happened upon a small Indian grocery store tucked away in Montreal's West Island. Singh Farm is hidden in a strip mall behind another row of stores on Boulevard des Sources. I couldn't resist popping in to scan the aisles for items I didn't necessarily need right then...


I ended up with all the ingredients for making saag paneer, which is one of my favorite Indian dishes. It is basically spicy creamed spinach with cheese cubes. I would be in heaven with a bit of basmati rice and tandoori chicken which is marinated in yogurt and spices before it is cooked in a clay oven. Gulab jamun for dessert would finish a perfect Indian meal for me. Gulab jamun is like a cake donut hole soaked in a rosewater and cardamom syrup. It is a little firmer so it can hold up to the liquid. I'll admit, I haven't been that adventurous when it comes to Indian cookery. Even at Indian restaurants I always order a bit of the same, possibly because we don't go out that often since I really prefer cooking at home.

Lately I have been watching Indian cooking shows and dreaming of whipping up delicious, spicy vegetable curries. I made some notes and headed back to Singh Farm to gather the ingredients for some of the dishes I want to try making at home. I was able to get everything on my list although I did have to seek the help of the shopkeeper. He was friendly but had no idea what I was asking for since I only knew the ingredients by their British names. I wanted nigella seeds, mango powder and black cardamom. I ended up with kalonji, amchur powder and jamun seeds.

     Lentils, spices, coconut, jaggery, gram flour and  tamarind paste

I remembered what the nigella seeds looked like from the cooking program. The chef had also mentioned that these seeds smell of onion and oregano. After seeing the package of kalonji and the French translation "graines d'oignons," I decided to try my luck. Back at home, a quick Google search revealed that I had bought the right ingredient - one point for me. Amchur powder is the same as mango powder. My tip off was the French translation "poudre de mangue." I didn't even have to bother the shopkeeper on this one. I did make one mistake as I was so bravely forging ahead alone. I wanted black cardamom and ended up with jamun seed. I remembered it looking similar but this package didn't have much information. After arriving home and looking at pictures, hmm...not so similar. Well, jamun seed is purportedly good for reducing blood glucose level. Jamun tea anyone?

     Curry leaves

Singh Farm is a great store for buying inexpensive Indian ingredients in the West Island. The aisles are tight, but there is a large selection. Fridays are market days for me because I like to avoid the weekend shopping crush. This grocery store has a fresh produce section with healthy looking fruit and vegetables - very important in my book. I picked up some mini eggplants, okra, fresh curry leaves and green chiles.

     Okra

There is a cold section with prepared items like samosa, a vegetable filled fried pastry, and the Indian cheese, paneer. I spent a good while ogling the aisles of exotic spices, flours, dried legumes, rice and canned goods in my search for ingredients. Luckily, I was able to find the tamarind paste, assorted spices and lentils I was looking for there. I also got a block of jaggery. Jaggery is an unrefined sugar used in India. It is considered to have medicinal properties because it has an abundance of vitamins and minerals. On a final note, Singh Farm had a great selection of Indian music playing in the background. I had to fight back the urge to embarrass myself by showcasing some of my best Bollywood dance moves.

Singh Farm Inc. 57 Boulevard Brunswick; Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec H9B 1P7; 514-685-1972. The store is hidden behind the strip mall with TD Bank and Pizza Hut, that is the behind the Ultramar at the intersection of Blvd. Brunswick and Blvd. des Sources. Hours: Mon-Sat 9:30-9, Sun 9-8 pm.

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