Indian ingredients and Jackfruit
I'm trying to learn (admittedly from a book) some decent vegetarian Indian cooking and I'm finding that most recipes call for ingredients that not only haven't I ever heard of, but that are patently unavailable here in Vermont. I've got a job interview near Boston next week. Can anyone recommend an Indian grocery store where I can find some of the more common Indian spices?
Also, I spent a couple of years living in Kenya and while visiting the coast (Mombassa) fell in love with jackfruit. Is it even possible to get it here in the States? Is there anywhere in Boston?
Indian Spices: There is a great place in Central Square in Cambridge along Mass Ave...not sure of the exact name but it's called Shalimar something or other I think. Vague I know, but you can't really miss it because it is the only Indian restaurant that is also attached to a rather large shop. There are mannequins in the window dressed in saris and inside there is a rather ample selection of the staple spices that you will need to start an Indian dry pantry-- cumin, corriander, turmuric, chili powder, curry powder, garam masala, saffron, etc. This is enough to get your fix.
You can also order Indian spices online. I assure you that they will be fresher that way. My peeps are notorious for keeping stale spices on the shelf...mostly because there is not a huge demand and over turn of the shelf stock. Even Indian people tend to buy in bulk, so we don't frequent these stores often either. Here are the best sites that I have found (all preceded by www of course): indiangrocerynet.com, mahabazaar.com, Namaste.com, patelbrotherusa.com, worldspiceshop.com. The latter sells a starter spice kit that may be worth your dough.
Jackfruit...it comes in cans at the Super 88 and Stop and Shop in South Boston. You can find a rather extensive selection of canned tropical fruits in both of these super-stores. You will also find the canned fruit in small shops in Chinatown and Dorchester. Finding it fresh is going to be a little more of a challenge. Occassionally there are fresh fruit markets in Dorchester and there may be a few, but bruised fruits among the pickings. I would more highly suggest going to a farmers market in NYC.