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The Indian Grocery Store Demystified (Take It with You Guides) Paperback – August 12, 2000


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

So you want to make a curry. There's a small Indian grocery store on the way home from work, so you figure you'll pop in and grab a few items--but when you get there you're overwhelmed by the pouches of aromatic spices and the jars of pickles and chutneys. Where to begin?

With The Indian Grocery Store Demystified, of course. Author Linda Bladholm walks you through a typical Indian grocery store, aisle by aisle, shelf by shelf. Start with the rice aisle and learn the differences between basmati, gobindavog, red patni, and several others. Learn which rice goes best with what type of recipe, how to prepare it, and what it should taste like. Then head down the flour aisle (here's where you learn how to bake several variations of naan and the popular pappadum), to the spices and seasonings. "Without spices," says Bladholm, "one cannot even imagine Indian food." Be sure to stock up on the cardamom, cumin, coriander, black pepper, tamarind, and turmeric. Mosey down to the herbs, then on to fruits and vegetables where you'll be introduced to the sakriya, a small vine-grown yam, and the sweet-and-sour woodapple, indigenous to the Indian jungle. There's also a chapter on ayurveda, the balancing of mind, body, spirit, and environment, and which foods can help you achieve this balance.

Though a few recipes are included in the back, this is not a cookbook, but rather a preparing-to-cook book. Bladholm thoroughly covers a vast amount of information and makes you feel like you could stroll into your local Indian grocery and make smart, informed purchases. And if you're still a little timid, The Indian Grocery Store Demystified is small enough to stick in your bag to reference while you're there. --Dana Van Nest

Review

At last there is a book that takes you by the hand and gives a clear and fascinating tour of these markets. It couldn't have a better title. (Amanda Hesser, New York Times)

[I]t's a perfectly economical vest-pocket guide that is a real gem. (Russ Parsons, Los Angeles Times (also named one of the Times' Ten Best Cookbooks for 1999))
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Product Details

  • Series: Take It with You Guides
  • Paperback: 265 pages
  • Publisher: Renaissance Books; 1st edition (August 12, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580631436
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580631433
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #564,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By H. Hardman on September 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Though I've enjoyed Indian cuisine for many years, my first kafkaesque foray into a local Indian grocer ended with my newly acquired rice steamer (thanks again Simon!) gathering dust in its original box for the next three months. But after arming myself with the appropriately titled "Indian Grocery Store Demystified", I feel ready to cross the Rubicon and try my hand at a Machhli Ka Bhujna. Linda Bladholm's guide is an indespensible and comprehensive culinary resource for understanding the wide variety of ingredients requisite to Indian cooking. Each ingredient is described in exacting detail, and Bladholm adds suggestions on their preparation, examples of how each ingredient is typically used in Indian cooking, and her own recommendations for particular brands. The text is peppered throughout with a bit of history and interesting facts about Indian culture. The appendix includes recommended equipment, cooking methods, and a handful of basic recipes. It boasts some nifty sketches to boot (a particularly noteworthy icon is the Gulab Jamun on p. 183, which my untrained eye at first mistook for an Egg McMuffin). Five stars for the inspiration I've been needing to get back into the kitchen with my tamarind paste and garam masala.
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83 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Mark Milo on January 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
Although this book has a lot of information, it has one really major flaw...the way in which it is organized. Many of the items are listed in the index and in the chapters under their English name, not their Indian name. Because of this, you cannot just look up an unfamiliar word, and find it's meaning. For example... if you wanted to look up the word "jeera", which means, cumin seed, you would not find it in the index as "jeera",you would have to look under the english term, "cumin seed". To me it seems that it is the Indian terms you would want to be looking up in most cases. The index should have included both the Indian and English term, so that you can look it up EITHER WAY. Although this book has lots of information, you would honestly be better of buying a cookbook that includes a glossary of ingredients that are listed as their INDIAN name, and you would save yourself a lot of time.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Karen on November 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
I've been a slavishly devoted fan of Indian food since 1990, and in the process have managed to become a reasonably accomplished cook. But while there are a host of amazing cookbooks out there that have given me my repetoire, I had not been able to go 'beyond the cookbook' until I got "The Indian Grocery Store Demystified". Beforehand, my visits to the Indian market were very rewarding in that I could identify all the ingredients I needed for my recipes, but I was left with no explanation of what all that other STUFF could be used for. This book helped me to recognize all the wonderful products available, and how they could be used to leap beyond the recipe pages, and actually construct dishes and menus of my very own. Thanks to Linda Bladholm, I am less of a book-taught hobbyist working endlessly to perfect my craft, and more of an intuitive home chef creating satisfying dishes inspired by products that formerly left me puzzled and intimidated. A great resource to anyone who wants to encompass the whole of Indian home cooking, not just a handful of recipes.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on January 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
An excellent reference for cooks just venturing into the cuisines of different regions. Indian Grocery Store Demystified provides over 700 entries and 200 illustrations, anecdotes about ingredients and cultural and culinary backgrounds. Unusual ingredients are explored and shopping tips included. Unique in scope and presentation.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Book Lover on August 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
I had an extremely dim first impression of the book from the chapter titles. The book attempts to transliterate an english word into a Devnagari (Hindi) script, and fails spectacularly. Transliterating back, the word "spices" reads as "syasis", "Canned goods" reads as "can thruds" and so on. It clearly has been added as a touch of exotica, which annoys me more.

This rant is only applicable to the Hindi reading section of the Indian populace, who in any case won't need this book to enter an Indian grocery store.

Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. Now I can be kind to the book.

I am an Indian; it seems relevant in this context since none of the other reviewers so far are. The information in this book is actually quite good, and pretty comprehensive, and for that I'd recommend the book. The indexing needs to be fixed; at the very least all the non-English words in the text should be present.
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