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Curry leaves and fenugreek seeds

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I want to make a curry that requires mustard seeds ( I am sure I have seen these in some supermarkets), fenugreek seeds and fresh curry leaves. Has anyone spotted the latter two in some ethnic store around town? Apparently, dried fenugreek and dried curry leaves aren't very good substitutes.

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  1. Mustard seeds can be found in most grocery stores because they're often called for in pickles and marinades.

    Fenugreek leaves taste nothing like fenugreek seeds and I'm not aware of any decent substitutes for fresh curry leaves. I buy both at the Indian stores on Victoria north of Van Horne (e.g Marché Victoria Orientale, 6324 Victoria, 514 737-4715). There are also stores on Jarry that stock them. Near the metro station IIRC, though someone here can surely confirm.

    One word to the wise when buying spices, grains and related products from these stores: give them three days or so in your freezer before putting them in your pantry.

    28 Replies
    1. re: carswell

      Marche Victoria is where I was planning to go although I can't say I like that store. Very difficult to navigate with hordes of people most of the time and staff not too helpful to point you in the direction of those hard-to-find ingredients. Thanks for the heads up on the potential little problems!

      1. re: hungryann

        There's a small store a couple of doors north of MVO with a more limited selection, especially of fresh produce, more agreeable staff and less overall chaos. They always have fenugreek and usually have fresh curry leaves.

        1. re: carswell

          On the same block as MVO?

          1. re: hungryann

            Same block, same side. IIRC the name's Indian. Apparent owner is a woman.

            1. re: carswell

              I went by today. MVO did not have the fresh curry leaves but had the spices. The place next door had everything I needed and it seems cleaner and friendlier. The lady at the cash was super friendly and helpful. The place is called Shavit. I also picked up some samosas (2 for 1$) and I found them pretty good. They sell them in the freezer case also. Next door to Shavit is a store called Planet Bollywood but surprisingly, it is a chinese/vietnamese market more than a south asian grocer! Anyway, after taking a few steps in, it reaked and I quickly made an escape without perusing the aisles. Why do most asian stores smell like dead roadkill?

              1. re: hungryann

                Ah, yes. Epicerie Shavit, 6334 av. Victoria, Montréal, QC H3W 2S4, 514 739-4403. You're right about the samosas, though I didn't know they had them in the freezer. Thanks for the heads-up.

                There's also a largish store in the next block, same side of the street. More SE Asian than Indian, however.

                Good luck with the lamb curry!

                1. re: carswell

                  So besides on Victoria, or elsewhere on the westside, any ideas where one would go to get fresh curry leaves and fenugreek leaves? I think I got some curry leaves once from a little shop on Parc near Bernard, but it's a bit of a pain to get to. Are there any other options downtown or near Jean Talon or the Plateau? I also need amchoor powder, chickpea flour, urad dal, and toovar dal. Is my best bet to just head out to Plamondon? If so, is there anything else in that area food-wise worth visiting (either grocery-wise or restaurant-wise)?

                  1. re: paperfree

                    I usually buy my curry leaves at Olives et Epices at JTM . I'ma also pretty sure you could find your other items at La Dépense (JTM also) I know these stores cost a little more but I find the quality of their products and the friendliness of the staff and owners worth it.

                    1. re: Simon Patrice

                      Thanks, I didn't know they had curry leaves there. Do you think they also have the other Indian ingredients I'm looking for? Somehow I'm doubtful they have the various daals.

                      1. re: paperfree

                        They'd probably have the daals at La Dépense. At the very least, Ethné or Philippe could inform you on where to find some.

                      2. re: Simon Patrice

                        You're talking about *fresh* curry leaves at O&E? Have never seen them there. Where do they keep them?

                        1. re: carswell

                          I'm talking about frozen curry leaves so, as opposed to dried ones, I would call them fresh. They keep them in the small freezer on the left at the end of the store. It's where they keep their red macis, frozen turmeric, etc.

                          1. re: Simon Patrice

                            Yeah, I've seen them there, but it's such a small bag for the price, and I go through *a lot* of curry leaves. Thai Hour is just down the street and has fresh turmeric for a great price, but no curry leaves unfortunately (although they do have fresh kaffir lime leaves).

                      3. re: paperfree

                        Hiya, the many Indian groceries all along Jean-Talon, between Parc & l'Acadie, should have all of these ingredients. There's a large one called Jean-Talon Bazar, and many smaller mom & pop ones. Plus, you could stop for lunch at Bombay Mahal - enjoy! :-)

                        1. re: kpzoo

                          Thanks, I've never been to that stretch. I'm going to check it out!

                          1. re: kpzoo

                            I travelled to this stretch of Jean-Talon today in search of my Indian ingredients. I found the chickpea flour, mung dal, dried chilies, and urad dal, but surpisingly neither Jean-Talon Bazar nor two of the small mom and pops had fresh curry leaves. As a matter of fact, they didn't even know what I was talking about when I asked for them. "Fresh?" they asked with confused looks on their faces, and tried to point me to the curry powder. I also couldn't find toor/toovar dal, although they did have whole pigeon peas. I forgot to look for amchoor, dried mango powder, or for tamarind paste.

                            1. re: paperfree

                              I bought fresh curry leaves at a Deppaneur south of Jean-Talon on a street between St. Denis and the Jean-Talon market. It may have been Henri Julien or Drolet. You can see it when walking on Jean-Talon and looking South, it is on the left side of the street a few houses down. I know it is a random spot, but a store owner on St Denis told me about it. It cost like a buck too, yet another reminder of how overpriced the stuff at O&E and Le Depense can be. I once got totally ripped off on Kafir lime leaves there too (we're talking 500% markup here from the shops on St Denis).

                              1. re: Keramel

                                Thank you keramel. Your post is over 3 years old, but I went there yesterday and they still had big bunches of fresh curry leaves in the fridge for 99 cents. Also found black mustard seeds there for the same price. Spices ARE overpriced in a lot of stores!

                              2. re: paperfree

                                I've often had bad luck finding toor dal as well, but I did find it on this stretch of Jean Talon at one of the mom and pop stores. I can't recall the name but believe it was right next door, heading west, to Halal 786 (which is at 768 Jean Talon).

                            2. re: paperfree

                              The stretch of Jean-Talon that KPZ refers to would be a good bet. Have also heard there are stores on Jarry in the vicinity of the metro station but have never investigated.

                              As for other foodie stops in the Plamondon area, there's New Victoria Fish, famous for its smoked salmon, and a few Asian/Caribbean restos that, at one time or another, were highly regarded but are now considered less than satisfactory by many hounds (Jolee, Dev, Kam Shing). Head to Hoai Huong for very solid Vietnamese food and Blue Mountain for jerk and other Caribbean dishes.

                              1. re: carswell

                                Also don't forget Mr. Spicee for Trini doubles and rotis. Caribbean cuurry house was also good although I can't really vouch for it now since I have not been in over 5 years.

                                1. re: carswell

                                  Can anyone else confirm regarding Jarry?

                                  Thanks Carswell for the Plamondon area info. I'm going to try the Jean-Talon locations first, but if that doesn't suffice I'll head in that direction.

                                  1. re: paperfree

                                    I don't remember seeing any South Asian shops in the Villeray segment of Jarry, near Jarry metro. About the only "ethnic" shops I can think of around there are a Haitian one and a Latino one. There are many South Asian shops on Jarry and even on Liege, north of Jarry, in the Parc-Extension section, where there is a large and growing South Asian population.

                  2. re: carswell

                    May I ask why you freeze them for three days?

                    1. re: moh

                      Meal moths and other wee beasties. The freezing kills 'em dead.

                      1. re: carswell

                        Thanks for the sage advice, it will be heeded. But does freezing affect the flavour?

                        1. re: moh

                          "But does freezing affect the flavour?"

                          Assuming you're not asking about meal moths... ;)

                          Freezing doesn't affect the flavour of dried spices, dried herbs, grains/pulses or grain/pulse-based products like papadoms. Curry leaves and other fresh herbs I usually keep in the fridge, and in any case I don't believe they're vectors for grain/pulse-infesting insects.

                    2. re: carswell

                      As other people have said, you can find all of these things in the numerous Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi grocery stores along Jean Talon, west of Parc Ave. The one I go to only has fresh curry leaves only once a week, and they all get snatched up fast. So maybe call around first.

                      Also, since you are making a curry, you would typically need the little black mustard seeds found in the Indian grocery store. The yellow mustard seeds commonly used for pickling and marinating that you can find in most grocery stores don't fit the bill (not the same thing).

                      In addition to freezing flours, spices, grains, etc, also put them in hermetically sealed containers in your pantry. That way, one bad batch won't cross contaminate your whole kitchen. You won't have any bug problems if you do that.

                    3. Just thought I would give a shout out to the Marché 786 on Jean-Talon, directly underneath Halal 786. Not a bad little shop and the guy was very helpful. Funny thing, though, when he helped me find the asafoetida he asked me what it was for, which I guess would be like an Italian grocer asking you what garlic was for, but who knows. He took a container of it to the back and said something to the other guys which included a word sounding like "Canadiani or Canadiensi."

                      Decent selection of stuff. It warms my heart to see this stuff again, having lived in the Plateau for several years and finding the grocery situation pretty dire.

                      All the paranoia on the other thread about moths is something I find a bit alarming. I've been buying sketchy Indian ingredients for ten years and haven't had a problem. Is this a Montreal thing?

                      No curry leaves, btw.

                      -----
                      Halal 786 Restaurant
                      768 Jean Talon, Montreal, QC H2R1V1, CA