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

4.3 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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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 (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,250,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback
`The Indian Grocery Store Demystified' by book designer and illustrator, Linda Bladholm is an exposition of ingredients with a very nice little twist which saves it from being a poor man's `Bruce Cost's Asian Ingredients'. While Cost's classic book deals with the serious culinary details of a great many basic ingredients, Ms. Bladholm's book, as suggested by her title, is much more pointedly directed at the shopper's experience in your typical strip mall Indian market.

The author adds appeal and charm to her book by opening it with a visit to her own local mom and pop run Indian grocery store. The store in question was just a bit better organized and stocked than my own favorite Filipino run store in southern New Jersey, but all the familiar staples were there, if not in all the familiar places.

The device of providing a guided tour of an Asian market is reinforced by mentioning all the major brand names for staples such as rice, noodles, sauces, oils, and spice mixes, with opinions by the author of which may be the preferred brands. While I found a few misstatements, such as describing a gluten free flour as `general purpose' (general purpose flours by definition have 10% to 12% gluten producing proteins), and I missed some possible warnings against Texmati rice as a less than useful substitute for Basmati rice, I believe the advice and information in this book is a really great supplement to other books on Asian ingredients with a more scholarly bent.

By far the biggest weakness of the book is the difference in quality between the promise of `over 400 illustrations of ingredients' and the quality of those illustrations.
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