Friday, May 23, 2008

Masala Central

- by Deepa Krishnan
I was walking through Crawford Market looking for pasta, when I saw a little shop with a row of bottles. The neat blue labels and red caps arrested my attention. .
"What a great collection of Mughlai masalas", I said to myself as my camera went click. There were over 50 different spices, ranging from simple popular dishes like Chicken Tikka, to regional specialities like Yakhni Pulao.
As I read the neat labels, I thought of Mumbai's many small "Punjabi" and Mughlai restaurants, with their faded menus and their standard but popular offerings. Did they all buy masalas from places like this? Maybe that's why Chicken 65 tastes similar, whether you eat in Bhayander or in Masjid!
Alongside traditional Mughlai masalas, I also spotted coastal cuisine - Konkani Malvani Masala, Goan Fish Curry Masala, Vindaloo Masala, Prawns Masala Fry and so on. A bottle of Sambar Masala was the sole vegetarian representative from South India, but to add a dash of international flavour to the offerings, there was a bottle of "Pizza Masala".
There are other shops in Crawford Market that sell masalas, but none of them had the neat packaging and display of this one. I complimented the owner on his marketing savvy. "It's not just bottled masalas", he said to me. "If you buy the masala, we also give you the perfect recipe for how to make the dish at home. Try it - your home food will taste just as chatkeela as the restaurants!"
Home cooking, as tasty as restaurant food? A tempting thought, indeed, for harried mothers of finicky children! Mumbai loves to eat out, so often it is restaurant food that defines the standards for what is tasty and what is not. A masala that promises to transform home cooking into something interesting and extraordinary is quite a draw.

So if your family is addicted to restaurant food, go to Crawford Market and take a look at Tasty Spices on Lane 1. Maybe you'll re-create that strange restaurant magic at home, and have everyone asking for more!


Anonymous said...

That looks great...I wish the Indian grocery stores here in the US were as well stocked!

Arch at Rang said...

That looks like something I might enjoy going through:-)

Thanks for sharing:-)

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