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Food souvenirs from India?

My parents are going on a tour of Northern India, so I have to ask: are there any small but wonderful food items I should ask them to bring back? Something a local Indian market might not have? (I'm in the S.F. Bay Area.) Or something that would be much more expensive in the U.S.? Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks.

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  1. Not exactly food, but Mittal Teas in Sunder Nagar Market in Delhi is a really nice shop with teas of fantastic quality and freshness -- the prices might be high for India but are really low in US terms, and they have all sorts of packages, including souvenir types in kashmiri boxes and silk pouches as well as plain boxes and tins.

    Here's a link to their website to give you an idea of what they carry:


    1. I saw really nice saffron in markets in Jodhpur last year....now I wish I had bought some. Much cheaper in India than it is here. Make sure they get real stuff though, lots of spice shops try to trick you.

      They can probably find this in Delhi and other North Indian cities as well, but if they do go to Jodhpur, the spice markets there are really great.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Dave MP

        saffron grown in kashmir India is the rarest and the best saffron....but i think difficult to get...u really hav to be able to differentiate the original saffron from the low quality saffron

      2. Hing (Devil's Dung; Asafoetida). Not the powdered and adulterated stuff that you get in the US (even reputable spice merchants like The Spice house sell this junk). The real stuff comes in chunks of pure dried sap. The Iranian ones are the best and are available in India. India has their own version as well.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Joe MacBu

          I just carried a package of that home from Jodphur, plus a bunch of the Sanjeev Kapoor cookbooks.

          No problem in customs, and we were inspected by the sniffer beagle - I think they're mainly concerned with dairy, meat and produce.

        2. Cookbooks! There is a whole range by Indian TV celebrity-chef Sanjeev Kapoor which contained dozens of fabulous recipes.

          1. Besides saffron, highly quality black cardamon and telicherri peppers are cheaper.

            1. I am planning a trip to India too but have been warned that U.S. Customs will confiscate any food items--it might be wise to double check before going to the trouble of shopping and schlepping.

              9 Replies
              1. re: Krissythecook

                dry stuff like teas and spices or breads and sweets, oils or jams, for example, will not be confiscated by customs, at least Ive brought such items back repeatedly over the years. Meat, certain milk products, and fresh fruit and veg products, leaves, roots, anything that could carry disease or dirt, on the other hand will not be allowed.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  I can't speak for the USA, but last time I returned from Mumbai to the UK I think I brought 4kg of kaju burfi and kesar burfi back in my case with no issues :D

                  1. re: GordonS

                    raw milk cheeses aged less than 60 days are an issue for the US, not a problem from india. I think those burfis are cashew based - cant see why they would be a problem. Just check the rules of the country you are returning to to avoid any issues. Since I have had food and plant products confiscated before, I prefer to know and live by the rules to avoid disappointment and wasted expense.

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      Kaju burfi is made with cashews, kesar burfi is made with almonds.

                      I think both contain milk.

                      1. re: GordonS

                        kesar is saffron or zaffran...yea all these burfi are made with khoya( this is thickened milk)

                        1. re: lucknow gal

                          these burfis when I have seen them in stores have mostly been made with a nut paste rather than khoya base, tho obviously the name is generic so there will be all kinds of recipes. Certainly the nut based recipes are easier, less expensive and less perishable.

                2. re: Krissythecook

                  I just got back from India with a suitcase full of spices, jam, and a few other food items without any problems.

                  1. re: Fromageball

                    I travel to India regularly (every 6months for the past 2 years, and many trips prior).

                    Items specifically prohibited are basically perishable/nonprocessed/uncooked items such as fruits, veg, milk, meat products as mentioned above. We generally bring back Indian pickles of various kinds, sweets, savory snacks, etc. No problems at ORD or IAH customs.

                    Kind of depends on how honest you are about fessing up to the customs folks ;) ... (disclaimer: what you tell Customs is at your own risk)

                    In recent years, my favorite items to bring have been different kinds of loose tea, raisins (much sweeter than the one here), and cashews. Spices are a good thought, but have the potential of driving the Customs sniffer dogs nuts. Be careful with liquids oils, since Indian packaging technology is not great sometimes - we always take lots of Ziploc bags and bubble wrap.

                    Have a great trip!

                    1. re: caliking

                      though readymade indian pickles from the company 'mother's recipe' are easily available here in the US Indian grocery story

                3. tea from Assam and Darjeeling ,India is the best and u should get that in some good shop

                  1. Is there a specific shop in Delhi or Bangalore that would be good to shop at for spices such as saffron and cardamon?